It’s been established that women with gestational diabetes are at greater risk of developing high blood pressure later in life. However, a healthy diet may significantly reduce that risk, according to new research in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension.
Researchers studied 3,818 women with a history of pregnancy-related diabetes who were enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study II as a part of the ongoing Diabetes & Women’s Health Study. Over 22 years of follow-up, 1,069 women developed high blood pressure, which in turn increased their risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
Researchers found that women who continually adhered to a healthy diet were 20 percent less likely to develop high blood pressure than were those who did not maintain a healthy diet.
Study participants completed a questionnaire about their diets every four years. Researchers matched responses to three healthy diets: the Alternative Healthy Eating Index, the alternative Mediterranean diet and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH). The three diets share important similarities: emphasizing fruits and vegetables, fish, legumes and whole grains while reducing red meat, salt and processed meat.