Blood pressure is a strong, independent and modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular and renal diseases. In view of the continuing epidemic of hypertension-related disorders, effective public health approaches that lead to population-wide reductions in blood pressure are warranted. More than half of cardiovascular events could be prevented by a healthy diet and lifestyle. Well-established dietary factors that lower blood pressure are weight reduction in overweight and obese individuals, reduced salt intake and moderation of alcohol use. Increasing the intake of potassium, especially in the context of a high salt diet, can also reduce blood pressure. There is growing interest in total dietary patterns, such as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. Dietary protein may be more beneficial to blood pressure than carbohydrates. Also, polyphenols (e.g. in cocoa) have been shown to lower blood pressure through improved endothelial function. A state-of-the art overview on the potential role of these and other dietary factors in the prevention of hypertension will be presented.
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