According to a new study, people with hypertension can see a reduction in blood pressure if they replace some of the carbs in their diet with soy and low-fat dairy products.
The findings weren’t necessarily revolutionary as scientists have long known that high-carb diets were unhealthy for the heart while soy based products decrease the risk of heart disease. Although these facts were known, less was understood about how these foods affected blood pressure.
To figure out an answer to that question, these researchers tested over 350 people with higher than normal blood pressure on different daily supplements (soy protein, milk protein and carbohydrates) for two months. The results showed that the carbohydrate supplement caused no change in blood pressure whereas the soy and milk supplements reduced systolic blood pressure by about two points.
The decreases in blood pressure were small on the individual level “but they would be very, very important at a population level…[as] annual deaths from heart disease and stroke could be expected to drop by 6% and 4%, respectively”. That being said, the researchers cautioned patients saying that this study was not a reason to go overboard on soy and dairy at the expense of a balanced diet.
 Anne Harding, “Swapping carbs for soy, dairy protein may help lower blood pressure”, http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/07/18/swap.carbs.protein/index.html
It has long been advised by doctors that everyone should reduce their salt intake due to its effects on blood pressure and overall health. New research supports that reducing salt intake keeps blood pressure down but is inconclusive on its effects in preventing heart attacks and cardiovascular disease.
Professor Rod Taylor of the University of Exeter and his team examined data of 6,500 patients and found a correlation to lower blood pressure but no evidence of effectiveness in preventing death or cardiovascular disease. The authors concluded that further, more rigorous studies are needed to actually draw strong connections between salt intake and cardiovascular events.
Despite this, there is still an abundance of research from a consensus of experts that agree that excess salt intake hurts cardiovascular health. Therefore, you should take any of these preliminary studies with a grain of salt.
There is a healthy amount of salt you should have in your diet (2,300 mg daily for adults is the government dietary guideline) but most people go way over that amount. The easiest way to reduce your sodium intake is to cut out frozen, processed and packaged foods in favor of fresh fruits and vegetables. You can also minimize your use of the tabletop salt shaker. Overall, until new, more conclusive studies are done you should stick with the advice of a trained professional to suit your own needs.
 Meredith Melnick, “Does Cutting Salt Really Improve Heart Health?”, http://healthland.time.com/2011/07/07/cutting-salt-may-not-reduce-heart-attacks-or-risk-of-death/