Target Health Blog

Diet Rich In Fried and Processed Foods Linked to Increased Hypertension in Black Americans

October 8, 2018


The best way to treat high blood pressure is to prevent it from occurring in the first place.

According to an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (2 October 2018), based on the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study. The REGARDS study includes more than 30,000 black and white Americans, approximately half of whom live in the Stroke Belt, an area in the southeastern United States where the rate of stroke mortality is higher than the rest of the country. Of these, 6,897 participants, 1,807 black and 5,090 white, were analyzed for this study.

According to the NIH, the majority of disparities seen in the health of black versus white Americans are cardiovascular in nature, and of these, all are tied to an increase in high blood pressure. Thus, this study addresses a lead cause of racial disparity in mortality, and identified potential lifestyle changes that could reduce racial disparities in both stroke and heart disease.

The study evaluated individuals over the age of 45 over a period of 10 years, and looked to identify risk factors associated with the higher likelihood of developing high blood pressure in the study participants. Results showed that for both men and women, a diet composed of high amounts of fried and processed foods, and sweetened beverages, was the greatest factor associated with why blacks are at a greater risk of developing high blood pressure compared to whites. For both men and women, other important factors included salt intake and education level. For women, additional factors contributing to the racial difference in high blood pressure included obesity and waist size.

The authors hope that these findings could be applied to reduce the prevalence of hypertension and thus the risk of stroke and heart attack in the black American population. This study also suggests that lifestyle changes, particularly changes in diet, could help reduce the disparities seen in black versus white Americans.

In 2016, the NINDS launched a stroke prevention campaign called Mind Your Risks which is designed to educate people aged 45-65 about the link between uncontrolled high blood pressure and the risk of having a stroke or developing dementia later in life.

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