The good news comes from a study just released online in the journal Hypertension.
The study says a diet that stresses vegetables, fruits and low-fat dairy products may act as a natural diuretic that could let people lower their blood pressure without the use of medication.
Previous research found this Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet significantly reduced blood pressure, but it was unclear how it did it.
This new study says the DASH diet promotes salt excretion, similar to that of diuretic drugs, resulting in increased urine production. The benefits of the DASH diet seem to be most noticeable in people sensitive to the blood pressure effects of salt.
The study included 375 adults with normal to moderately elevated blood pressure. They were randomly assigned to consume a DASH diet or a control diet for three consecutive 30-day periods. During each of those 30-day periods, they had different levels of salt intake.
People on the DASH diet excreted salt easier and in greater amounts and also had reduced blood pressure. The study also found the impact of the DASH diet decreased as the level of salt intake decreased.
Diuretic drugs can cause side effects, so the DASH diet may offer a safer alternative.
"I think the DASH diet acts as a natural diuretic without the adverse effects. The DASH diet provides healthy food for people of all ages. I think the diet should be recommended for everyone, regardless of age, not only for reducing blood pressure but also to prevent heart disease and cancer," the study's author, Dr. Genjiro Kimura of the Nagoya City University Graduate School of Medical Sciences in Japan, says in a news release.
Here's where you can learn more about the DASH diet.