Beat Hypertension with More Fish, Less Fat

Combining two old favorites in the battle against high blood pressure – fish and a low-fat diet – creates a more powerful, nondrug treatment for hypertension.

The study: Investigators at the University of Western Australia in Perth compared the effects of four eating plants – a low-fat diet, a high-fish diet, a combination low-fat, high-fish diet, and a regular diet – on the blood pressures of 63 people who took medication for their hypertension.

The findings: While eating either less fat or more fish significantly reduced blood pressure, pairing the two produced even more reductions.

These results suggest that by incorporating both dietary changes, people taking medication to control hypertension may be able to reduce or halt drug therapy, advises US expert Thomas Pickering, MD, professor of medicine at New York Presbyterian Hospital in New York City.

Try it: If you have high blood pressure, get no more than 25% of calories from fat and aim for up to seven fish meals a week – the amount tested in the study. If your blood pressure is normal, including three or four fish meals a week may help protect you from hypertension, Dr. Pickering says. (While the study focused on overweight people, normal-weight individuals should reap similar benefits.) Choose fish high in omega-3s, such as white albacore tuna, salmon, and sardines. Never discontinue or change your dosage of medication without your doctor’s approval, of course.

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