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Hypertension & Stroke

2004 Edition

New Research:
DASH Diet Helps Improve Sodium Excretion

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet lowers elevated blood pressure, but its mechanism of action has been unclear. A new study shows that the DASH diet works like a diuretic drug, improving the excretion of sodium in the urine.

Researchers randomized 375 people with prehypertension or hypertension to follow either the DASH diet (which is rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods) or a typical American diet for three 30-day periods. For each period, the sodium level of the diet varied, so that each participant ate a low, moderate, and high-sodium diet in random order.

People following the DASH diet excreted more salt in their urine and lowered their blood pressure more than those receiving the typical diet. The DASH diet was more effective in people with higher sodium intakes (indicating that its main blood pressure-lowering effect is through sodium excretion). Also, the diet was more effective in those with hypertension, in blacks, and in people age 45 and older.

The researchers hypothesize that minerals such as potassium and calcium, which are abundant in the DASH diet, may contribute to its ability to eliminate sodium from the body.

Volume 42, page 8
July 2003


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Hypertension & Stroke

The Hypertension and Stroke White Paper from the Johns Hopkins White Papers series is an annual, in-depth report written by Johns Hopkins physicians.



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