A healthy diet in adolescence may prevent hypertension.


Researchers at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia asked 180 minority teenagers whose blood pressure was far above normal to recall what they had eaten in the past 24 hours. The researchers then categorized the teenagers into low folate and high folate groups, based on how much fruit, vegetables and whole grains they had consumed, and looked for any association between folate intake and blood pressure. There was no difference in body mass index between the two groups. Teenagers with a folate intake below the recommended daily allowance (RDA) had a significantly higher diastolic, or relaxing, blood pressure than those with a folate intake above the RDA. The researchers did not detect any difference in the systolic, or contracting, blood pressure.

WHAT'S NEW This is the first study to look for a relationship between dietary nutrients and blood pressure levels in adolescents rather than adults.

CAVEATS The study relies on the accuracy of the teenagers' reports of what they ate. Also, the results might not be the same for other racial groups. (Minority adolescents were the subject of this study because people in minority groups are at higher risk of developing hypertension than other groups.)

BOTTOM LINE Teenagers at risk for hypertension as adults can reduce their risk with a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in animal fat.

FIND THIS STUDY September issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine; abstract online at http://archpedi.ama-assn.org

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