The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is an effective first-line therapy for many individuals with stage I isolated systolic hypertension (ISH).
Researchers from Boston University Medical Center focused their attention on 72 of the 459 participants in the original DASH trial who had stage I ISH (140-159 mmHg). In the eight-week DASH study, participants' blood pressures were measured on entry into the study and again after randomisation into one of three diet groups. The three diets were: a typical American diet (control); a diet rich in fruits and vegetables; and the DASH diet, which is rich in fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy foods.
The DASH diet lowered systolic blood pressure significantly more than the control diet (211.2 mmHg, p < 0.001), and the fruit and vegetable diet (28.0 mmHg, p < 0.01).
Overall, say the researchers, the nutritional approach using the DASH diet translates to an overall drop in blood pressure from 146/85 mmHg to 134/82 mmHg - a response comparable to that seen with standard treatment with antihypertensive drugs (Hypertension, 2001; 38: 155-8).