Background: It is known that obesity, sodium intake, and alcohol consumption influence blood pressure. In this clinical trial, Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, we assessed the effects of dietary patterns on blood pressure. Methods: We enrolled 459 adults with systolic blood pressures of less than 160 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressures of 80 to 95 mm Hg. For three weeks, the subjects were fed a control diet that was low in fruits, vegetables, and dairy products, with a fat content typical of the average diet in the United States. They were then randomly assigned to receive for eight weeks the control diet, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, or a 'combination' diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products and with reduced saturated and total fat. Sodium intake and body weight were maintained at constant levels. Results: At base line, the mean (±SD) systolic and diastolic blood pressures were 131.3±10.8 mm Hg and 84.7±4.7 mm Hg, respectively. The combination diet reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 5.5 and 3.0 mm Hg more, respectively, than the control diet (P<0.001 for each); the fruits-and-vegetables diet reduced systolic blood pressure by 2.8 mm Hg more (P<0.001) and diastolic blood pressure by 1.1 mm Hg more (P=0.07) than the control diet. Among the 133 subjects with hypertension (systolic pressure, ≤140 mm Hg; diastolic pressure, ≤90 mm Hg; or both), the combination diet reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 11.4 and 5.5 mm Hg more, respectively, than the control diet (P<0.001 for each); among the 326 subjects without hypertension, the corresponding reductions were 3.5 mm Hg (P<0.001) and 2.1 mm Hg (P=0.003). Conclusions: A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods and with reduced saturated and total fat can substantially lower blood pressure. This diet offers an additional nutritional approach to preventing and treating hypertension.
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