Dietary Fat and Blood Pressure
Purpose of Review
Do dietary fats lower blood pressure? This review covers total fats, individual fatty acids and foods that provide specific fats.
Evidence for blood pressure lowering is stronger for supplements providing individual marine fatty acids than for fish intake since data on fish consumption are scarce. Such effects are more readily apparent in hypertensive than normal subjects. Biological mechanisms to support linkage between dietary fish oils and blood pressure are plausible. Information on other dietary fatty acids (saturates, linoleic acid, alpha-linolenic acid) is mostly less robust and therefore inconclusive. However, findings with respect to consumption of dairy foods especially of the low-fat variety do suggest association with lower blood pressures.
Apart from marine fatty acids which have mostly been significantly associated with clinically modest blood pressure-lowering, the effects of other dietary fatty acids are inconsistent or clinically minor. Consumption of dairy especially of yoghurt has been linked with lower blood pressure despite the relatively high saturated fat content but the mechanism is unclear.
KeywordsBlood pressure Dietary fatty acids Marine oil and fatty acids Dairy fat consumption Fish consumption
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The author declares no conflicts of interest relevant to this manuscript.
Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent
This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.
Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance
- 2.• Allison MA, Araqyudki AK, Ray RM, Margolis KL, Beresford SA, Kuller L, et al. A randomized trial of a low-fat diet intervention on blood pressure and hypertension: tertiary analysis of the WHI dietary modification trial. Am J Hypertens. 2016;29:959–68 Large-scale trial showing low-fat diet lowers blood pressure. PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 3.Steffen LM, Kroenke CH, Yu X, Pereira MA, Slattery ML, Van Horn L, et al. Associations of plant food, dairy product, and meat intakes with 15-y incidence of elevated blood pressure in young black and white adults. The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005;82:1169–77.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 4.Chiu S, Bergeron N, Williams PT, Bray GA, Sutherland B, Krauss RM. Comparison of the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet and a higher-fat DASH diet on blood pressure and lipids and lipoproteins: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2016;103:341–7.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 7.• Domenech M, Roman P, Garcia dela Corte FJ, Sala-Vila A, de la Torre R, Corella D, et al. Mediterranean diet reduces 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure, blood glucose, and lipids: one-year randomized, clinical trial. Hypertension. 2014;64:69–76 Evidence that Mediterranean diet lowers blood pressure modestly. PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 8.Rees K, Hartley L, Flowers N, Clarke A, Hooper L, Thorogood M, et al. “Mediterranean” dietary patterns for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013;8:CD009825.Google Scholar
- 11.Fekete AA, Giromini C, Givens DI, Lovegrove JA. Whey protein lowers blood pressure and improves endothelial function and lipid biomarkers in adults with prehypertension and mild hypertension: results from the chronic Whey2Go randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2016;104:1534–44.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 13.• Engberink MF, Hendriksen MAH, Schouten EG, van Rooij FJA, Hofman A, Witteman JCM, et al. Inverse association between dairy intake and hypertension: the Rotterdam Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;89:1877–83 Good epidemiological study showing inverse relation between dairy food and blood pressure. PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 15.• Soedemah-Muthu SS, Verberne LD, Ding EL, Engbrink MF, Geleijnse JM. Dairy consumption and incidence of hypertension: dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Hypertension. 2012;60:1137 Meta-analysis showing dairy consumption reduces incident hypertension. Google Scholar
- 17.• Nestel P, Clifton P, Colquhoun D, Noakes M, Mori TA, Sullivan D, et al. Indications for omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease. Heart Lung Circ. 2015;24:769–79 Comprehensive recent review casting doubt on omega-3 supplements preventing cardiovascular events: blood pressure effects described. PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 18.Panagiotakos D, Zeimbekis A, Boutziouka V, Economu M, Kourlaba G, Toutouzas P, et al. Long-term fish intake is associated with better lipid profile, arterial blood pressure, and blood glucose levels in elderly people from Mediterranean islands. Med Sci Monit. 2007;13:307–12.Google Scholar
- 20.• Bao DQ, Mori TA, Burke V, Puddey IB, Beilin LJ. Effects of dietary fish and weight reduction on ambulatory blood pressure in overweight hypertensives. Hypertension. 1998;32:710–7 Convincing trial showing fish consumption augments blood pressure lowering with weight reduction. PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 22.Minihane AM, Armah CK, Miles EA, Madden JM, Clark AB, Caslake MJ, et al. Consumption of fish oil providing amounts of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid that can be obtained from the diet reduces blood pressure in adults with systolic hypertension: a retrospective analysis. J Nutr. 2016;146:516–23.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 26.• Balk E, Lichtenstein AH. Omega-3 fatty acids and cardiovascular disease: summary of the 2016 Agency of Health Care Research and Quality Evidence Review. Nutrients. 2017. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9080865 Recent position statement from USA including negative finding of fish oil affecting blood pressure.
- 27.• Abdelhamid AS, Brown TJ, Brainard JS, Biswas P, Thorpe GC, Moore HJ, et al. Omega-3 fatty acids for the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD003177 Recent Cochrane report also casting doubt on blood pressure lowering potential of omega-3 fatty acids.
- 29.Request No EFSA-Q-2003-022. Opinion of the scientific panel on dietetic products, nutrition and allergies on a request from the commission related to the presence of trans fatty acids in foods and the effect on human health of the consumption of trans fatty acids. EFSA J. 2004;81q:1–49.Google Scholar
- 32.Vafeiadou K, Weech M, Altowaijri H, Todd S, Yaqoob P, Jackson KG, et al. Replacement of saturated with unsaturated fats had no impact on vascular function but beneficial effects on lipid biomarkers, E-selectin and blood pressure: results from the randomized, controlled Dietary Intervention and VAScular function (DIVAS) Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015;102:40–8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 34.• Maki KC, Lawless AL, Kelley KM, Kaden UN, Geiger CJ, Dicklin MR. Corn oil improves the plasma lipid profile compared with extra-virgin olive oil consumption in men and women; results from a randomized controlled feeding trial. J Clin Lipidol. 2015:49–57. Corn oil but not olive oil consumption lowered blood pressure in this trial. Google Scholar
- 35.• Al-Khudairy L, Hartley L, Clari C, Flowers N, Hooper L, Rees K. Omega-6 fatty acids for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015:CD011094. Limited Cochrane report casting doubt on omega-6 linoleic acid improving blood pressure. Google Scholar