For High Blood Pressure A Low Carb Diet Can Be Effective

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A new study from the Veterans Affairs Medical Centre and Duke University Medical Centre shows that a low-carbohydrate diet was equally good as the weight loss drug orlistat (the active ingredient in Alli and Xenical) at helping overweight people lose weight. They also found that people who followed the low-carb diet were able to lower their blood pressure levels.

“If people have high blood pressure and a weight problem, a low-carbohydrate diet might be a better option than a weight loss medication,” says researcher William S. Yancy, Jr., MD, an associate professor at Duke University Medical Centre.

Dr William S Yancy Jr the lead author on the study stated that this is the first time the low-carb diet has been put up against a diet drug in combination with a different diet. In addition he claims that it is one of the first studies to compare weight-loss approaches in people who also have other known medical problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and arthritis.

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The study looked at 146 people and discovered that 47% of the people on the low carbohydrate diet were able to reduce or cut out their blood pressure medication, compared with around 21% of those on orlistat plus a low-fat diet. The findings send an important message to people with high blood pressure who are trying to lose weight.

Yancy stated, "While weight loss typically induces improvements in blood pressure, it may be that the low-carbohydrate diet has an additional effect." He continued to say that, "It's important to know you can try a diet instead of medication and get the same weight loss results with fewer costs and potentially fewer side effects."

While there are a number of explanations for the blood-pressure differences between weight-loss strategies, Yancy speculated that it might be related to the known diuretic effect of low-carb diets.

"We've looked at that in the past, and it seems to occur in the first couple weeks of the diet and doesn't seem to be a big factor after that, but that could contribute to the differences seen here. The other thing is that low-carb diets are thought to reduce insulin levels more so than a high-carb diet. There are several different mechanisms that insulin has with the vascular system that might cause increased blood pressure, so if you decrease insulin your blood pressure might decrease as well."

The main message from this study is that not that one diet is superior to another, Yancy concluded. "Different interventions appeal to different people," he said. "We have a big weight problem in our society, and this study gives us two different options, both of which worked quite well. And if you happen to have blood-pressure problems and you are trying to kill two birds with one stone, the low-carb option might be a better option than the orlistat option."

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