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Blood pressure rising? Eat more fiber

Eating a high-fiber diet can lower high blood pressure and even improve healthy blood pressure levels, say Tulane University researchers in a study published in the March 2005 issue of the Journal of Hypertension.

“We performed a comprehensive analysis of data from 25 clinical trials and all the data pointed to one strong conclusion — adding fiber to a person’s diet has a healthy effect on their blood pressure,” says Seamus Whelton, lead author and a medical student at the Tulane University School of Medicine. “Analyzing a large number of studies lends strength to the conclusions of clinical trials that involved too few participants to show an effect of dietary fiber on blood pressure.”

The data represented 1,477 adult study participants. People who ate 7.2 to 18.9 grams of fiber a day experienced a reduction in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Studies that continued for eight or more weeks also showed significant reductions in blood pressure.

The researchers recommend that people add fruits and vegetables to their diets in order to increase dietary fiber intake. People can also get dietary fiber in pill form, Whelton says.

“Other lifestyle changes can also help reduce blood pressure,” Whelton added. He encourages people with high blood pressure to talk with their physician about lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise habits.

Whelton and his team called for further research into the role dietary fiber can play in reducing blood pressure.

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