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Healthy Heart Reports

Dash Diet Natural Diuretic Effect

Many studies show that the DASH diet lowers high blood pressure at least as much as any combination of several drugs used to lower high blood pressure. Until now, nobody really understood why the DASH diet is such an effective treatment for high blood pressure. An article in the medical journal, Hypertension (1), shows that a diet based on vegetables, fruits and low-fat dairy products acts as a natural diuretic that lets many people lower their blood pressure without drugs. The DASH diet causes the body to urinate out more salt in the same way that diuretics do.

Most people do not develop high blood pressure when they take in excess salt, but the hypertensives who benefit the most from the DASH diet are those who are salt sensitive, which means that their blood pressures rise when they take in too much salt The study included 375 adults with normal to moderately elevated blood pressure. They ate a DASH diet or a control diet for three consecutive 30-day periods. Additionally, during each of those 30-day periods, they ate either a high, moderate, or low-salt diet. The DASH diet increased the amount of salt in the urine and also lowered high blood pressure. The DASH diet lowered high blood pressure the most in people who ate a high-salt diet, and was least effective in those on low-salt diets.

The DASH diet is safer than drugs because diuretics can cause tiredness, inability to exercise, and impotence. Another study in the American Journal of Hypertension (2) shows that the DASH diet controls high blood pressure on people whose high blood pressure did not lower with an angiotensin receptor blocker. Those who benefitted the most were African Americans who may suffer from an increased tendency to retain salt. For details on the DASH diet see report #8614 in the Heart Health section.

1) Hypertension May 23, 2003.

2) The DASH diet enhances the blood pressure response to Losartan in hypertensive patients. American Journal of Hypertension, 2003, Vol 16, Iss 5, Part 1, pp 337-342. PR Conlin, TP Erlinger, A Bohannon, ER Miller, LJ Appel, LP Svetkey, TJ Moore.


Copyright 2003
Dr. Mirkin's opinions and the references cited are for information only, and are not intended to diagnose or prescribe. For your specific diagnosis and treatment, consult your doctor or health care provider.

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