Oxford study links DASH diet to lower blood pressure

By Guy Montague-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Blood pressure, Nutrition

A diet consisting of low fat dairy foods, wholegrains, and fruit and vegetables has been linked to lower blood pressure in the first British study of the DASH diet.

Scientists at the University of Oxford and Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals examined the potential of the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet in a study that is soon to be published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics​.

Academic attention

Several studies have previously been conducted in the US on the DASH diet but the concept has only just begun to attract academic attention across the Atlantic.

Oxford scientists decided to adapt the diet slightly to suit British food preferences and serving sizes but kept the emphasis on low fat dairy, wholegrains and fruit and vegetables.

To assess the impact of the DASH diet on blood pressure in healthy people, the researchers gave participants a daily 30-day diet made up of 4-6 servings of fruits and vegetables, 2-4 servings of low-fat dairy and 6-13 servings of grains.

At the end of the month long study, the scientists said blood pressure had decreased significantly. They therefore concluded that the DASH style diet should be considered when giving dietary advice to people with elevated blood pressure in the UK.

Dairy content

The Dairy Council welcomed the news, and called for further promotion of the DASH diet. “We hope the relevant UK bodies will take up the researcher’s call to consider advising DASH – which has a very healthy dietary pattern - when giving dietary advice to people with raised blood pressure in the UK,” ​said Dr Judith Bryans, director of The Dairy Council.

Dairy products have a mixed reputation in the health community because their saturated fat content. “In the UK, we still see far too many people with high blood pressure being wrongly advised to remove dairy from their diets,”​ added Bryans.

In low fat dairy products like skimmed milk, hard cheese, and reduced fat yoghurt, the Dairy Council claims the calcium and proteins may be good for blood pressure and heart health in the context of a healthy diet.

Related topics: Dairy Health Check, R&D

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