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Picking a Diet That Lowers Blood Pressure

Picking a Diet That Lowers Blood Pressure
White coat hypertension

Q. Several years ago my blood pressure was 210/100. I took the prescribed medication but also started reading up on ways to control hypertension naturally.

I read that low carbohydrate diets lower blood pressure, blood sugar and triglycerides. I cut back on bread, rarely eat pasta or other grains and don’t eat much fruit but do get lots of non-starchy vegetables. I eliminated sugar, and in the next few months my blood pressure dropped to about 120/80 even without meds.

I never cut back on salt and blood tests show my sodium is right where it should be. I suggest cutting carbs instead of salt.

My blood pressure is around 110/68 at home, but it still pops up to 140/80 at the doctor’s office. I take my monitor with me so my doctor can check my recent readings and test it against her meter.

A. Bravo! Your low-carb dietary approach works for losing weight, lowering cholesterol and controlling blood sugar. There is some evidence to support your use of this approach for hypertension and weight control (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Nov. 2009).

It is very sensible for you to monitor your blood pressure at home. Many people find that their blood pressure is higher during an office visit, particularly if there is some anxiety associated with the visit. This is called “white coat hypertension.”

We discuss white coat hypertension and many non-drug approaches to controlling hypertension in our Guide to Blood Pressure Treatment. The DASH diet, although it is not low in carbohydrates, is one approach that is very well supported by evidence. If you need to learn more about the DASH diet, you can find lots of information online or in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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