New Research Shows Low-Sodium Diet Can Significantly Lower Blood Pressure
A recent research study, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has found that a low-sodium diet can have a significant impact on reducing blood pressure, regardless of whether individuals have hypertension or are already taking blood pressure medications.
Led by Dr. Deepak Gupta at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, the study involved 213 participants between the ages of 50 and 75, with 65% of them being women and 64% identifying as Black. The participants, including both individuals with normal blood pressure and those with high blood pressure, were enrolled between April 2021 and February 2023 in Chicago, Illinois, and Birmingham, Alabama.
During the study, participants were randomly assigned to either a high-sodium or low-sodium diet for one week. Those on the high-sodium diet added 2,200 mg of sodium per day to their usual diets, while those on the low-sodium diet were provided with a week’s worth of low-sodium meals, snacks, and beverages, averaging just 500 mg of sodium per day.
After a week on each diet, the participants’ blood pressures were measured. The results showed that nearly 75% of participants had lower systolic blood pressure on the low-sodium diet, with an average drop of 7 mm Hg.
“The reductions in blood pressure seen in the study could have significant health benefits,” stated Dr. Gupta. The findings support the idea of lowering dietary sodium to reduce blood pressure and suggest that consuming less sodium could benefit a wide range of people, including those who are already taking medications to lower their blood pressure.
Dr. Gupta emphasized that even small reductions in sodium intake from a person’s current diet can make a difference. In fact, the effect of the low-sodium diet was comparable to that of a common first-line medication used to treat high blood pressure.
These findings are especially relevant since approximately half of all Americans have high blood pressure. Blood pressure is considered high when systolic readings consistently measure above 130 mm Hg or diastolic readings are 80 mm Hg or higher.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) on November 11, 2023, was funded by various branches of the NIH, including the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), as well as the American Heart Association.
Overall, this research provides further evidence of the benefits of a low-sodium diet in maintaining a healthy blood pressure and suggests that reducing dietary sodium intake could have a positive impact on public health.