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Study found that eating lower salt version of traditional Chinese food reduced blood pressure

by Pragati Singh

Researchers developed a heart-healthy, lower salt version of traditional Chinese cuisine that was tasty, inexpensive, and dramatically reduced blood pressure in hypertensive patients.

The heart-healthy Chinese diet cut salt intake in half, from over 6,000 mg per day to around 3,000 mg per day, and included less fat, more protein and carbs, twice as much dietary fibre, and more potassium. Adopting a similar heart-healthy, lower sodium diet may assist people with high blood pressure. Sodium reduction was a significant part of the Chinese heart-healthy diet, which was designed after the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet.

A poor diet, particularly one heavy in salt, is a major modifiable risk factor for high blood pressure.

“In comparison to the nutritional content of a typical Chinese meal in urban China, our heart-healthy diet of traditional Chinese cuisine lowered salt intake by half, from 6,000 mg daily to 3,000 mg daily, reduced fat intake by half, and boosted dietary fibre intake. It also raised protein, carbs, and potassium levels “Yanfang Wang, Ph.D., a nutritionist and professorial research fellow at Peking University Clinical Research Institute in Beijing, China, was the study’s first author and co-chair.

Chinese people make for more than one-fifth of the world’s population, according to the report.

In China, like in the rest of the globe, the burden of cardiovascular disease has risen dramatically in recent decades. Unhealthy dietary trends in China have been a key contributor to the growth of cardiovascular disease.

According to the 2012 China National Nutrition Survey, intake of nutritious foods such as grains (34%), tubers and legumes (80%), and vegetables and fruits (15%) has dramatically fallen. In contrast, consumption of meat (162%), eggs (233%), and edible oil (132%) grew considerably during the same period.

“Chinese individuals who reside in the United States and overseas frequently keep a traditional Chinese diet, which is extremely different from a Western diet,” said Yangfeng Wu, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the study team at Peking University Clinical Research Institute in Beijing, China. “While healthy Western diets like DASH and Mediterranean have been designed and proved to help decrease blood pressure, there has yet to be a proven heart-healthy diet developed to fit with traditional Chinese food.”

The study comprised 265 Chinese people with systolic blood pressure equal to or more than 130 mm Hg, with an average age of 56.

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When the trial began, slightly more than half of the participants were women, and almost half were using at least one high blood pressure medication. Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Chengdu residents were recruited. Shangdong, Huaiyang, Cantonese, and Szechuan are four significant cities in China, each boasting a distinct regional cuisine.

The Chinese heart-healthy diet was designed in collaboration with catering companies in those locations and adhered to the four regional cuisines, allowing researchers to determine if the heart-healthy diet’s effect would be relevant and sustainable to diverse Chinese dietary cultures. This can be difficult at times since traditional Chinese cuisine has a long history of utilising salt for cooking and food preservation, dating back thousands of years.

This was especially true in northern China, where greens were limited due to the harsh temperature and people were forced to consume salt-preserved vegetables during the winter and spring seasons. This is why people in northern China consume considerably more salt.

At the start of the trial, all participants ate their regular meals for seven days so that the new eating patterns could be tailored to taste and flavour. The researchers intended the heart-healthy meal to taste as close to the participants’ regular diets as possible, while reducing the nutritional intake to be heart-healthy.

After 7 days of eating their normal food, 135 of the people were randomly selected to consume the new Chinese heart-healthy diet for 28 days, while the remaining 130 ate meals from their customary cuisine. Meals were either standard or heart-healthy versions of Shangdong, Huaiyang, Cantonese, and Szechuan cuisine, depending on group assignment. Participants in the study and blood pressure assessors were unaware of which dietary group they were allocated.

The participants’ blood pressure was tested before and after the study, as well as once a week during the trial. To determine nutritional intake for each meal, food items for each dish were weighed. Urine samples were taken at the beginning and conclusion of the research to determine salt and potassium consumption.

The findings suggested that the Chinese heart-healthy diet may have a significant blood pressure-lowering impact that is compatible with hypertension drugs.

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