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Lower Carbs ... and Blood Pressure

A low-carbohydrate diet may be more effective to lower blood pressure than the weight-loss drug orlistat combined with a low-fat diet. In a year-long study, investigators at Duke University Medical Center and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Durham, N.C. compared the effects of the two weight loss strategies in 146 overweight men and women who had obesity-related health problems such as diabetes, high cholesterol and arthritis as well as high blood pressure. One group of participants followed a low-carb diet and the other combined orlistat with a low-fat diet. Over the course of the study, participants in both groups lost an average of 10 percent of their body weight, but 47 percent of those on the low-carb diet were able to reduce or discontinue medication they took for high blood pressure; only 21 percent of those in the other group were able to do the same. Exactly how the low-carb diet achieved those results isn't known yet. The study was published in the Jan. 25, 2010 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

My take? These findings are very interesting. If confirmed, we need to learn what it is about a low-carb diet that helps lower blood pressure so much more effectively than losing the same amount of weight with another strategy, or consider why a high-carb diet might raise blood pressure. In addition to weight loss, you may be able to lower high blood pressure by quitting smoking if that's an issue, limiting caffeine and alcohol intake, cutting back on salt (processed foods are the biggest sources of sodium in today's western diet) and practicing relaxation methods.

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Reader Comments (5)

This is another example of food as medicine, or should I say the right food instead of medicine! I wonder what the mechanism is that connects a low-carb diet to lower blood pressure. Maybe it has something to do with insulin resistance.

It would be interesting to know if the fact that the other group was eating a low-fat diet was significant to the results. Thanks for a thought-provoking post!

April 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSuzy Staywell

Does this not confirm Dr Atkins' findings as well? I am not aware that he conducted formal research into this aspect, but he certainly reported on the issue.

April 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFricky D

FrickyD: Dr. Weil has said: The Atkins Diet: Here you also eliminate most carbs and don't count calories. My major objection to this one is its failure to distinguish between good and bad fats (olive oil and other monounsaturates being the good ones and saturated and polyunsaturates the unhealthy ones). Similarly, there isn't enough emphasis on fiber, vitamins and minerals, all of which are important in disease prevention. If you're on Atkins, you miss out on health-protective phytochemicals found in fruits and many vegetables and don't learn to differentiate between healthy low glycemic-load carbs and less healthy high-glycemic load ones. Some studies have shown that short-term use of the Atkins diet is safe and effective for healthy weight loss. Many physicians are concerned about long-term health risks.

April 15, 2010 | Unregistered

Am not currently on Atkins Diet, but did some years age and it did lower my BP to the extent that I did not need chemicals anymore.
But I agree with your comment in that the answer is always on "balanced" diet. Shortterm though Atkins helped me stacks,.
Thx for the comments though.

April 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFrikckyD

My question is this: What kind of carbs were these people taking in? Bad carbs? Processed foods? Or were they eating whole grains and cut those out? I seriously doubt that the Atkins diet is being advocated for here. It's not a "no carb" thing, but rather a lower carb thing.

While I find this very interesting, it seems very inconclusive. I can't wait to hear more about what happens.

April 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAndi
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