A new study, published in Hypertension, found that healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables and whole grains while low in salt and processed meat could reduce the risk of high blood pressure in later life for women who develop diabetes during pregnancy.
“Our earlier research showed that diabetes in pregnancy increased a woman’s risk of developing hypertension, even 16 years after giving birth,” Dr. Zhang explains. (1)
“Our current study shows that a healthy diet, which has been proven to reduce high blood pressure risk in the general population, appears to be equally effective in reducing the risk in this group of high-risk women.”
Women with pregnancy-related diabetes should follow a healthy diet and get regular exercise before and after delivery, the researchers said. (2)
Experts suggest that healthy diet reduce the risk of high blood pressure for all people, not only women who have had gestational diabetes.
“The healthy diets in this study all emphasize nutrients (fruits and vegetables, fresh vs. non-processed food) that are high in potassium and low in sodium, both of which can help lower blood pressure,” said Dr. Cheryl Bushnell of Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston Salem, North Carolina. (3)
High blood pressure “is the single-most modifiable risk factor for stroke, so avoiding (it) will help reduce the risk for stroke,” she said. “Other major conditions associated with (high blood pressure) include heart disease, heart failure, and chronic kidney disease, all of which shorten the life expectancy.”