For women with a history of gestational diabetes, adhering to a healthy diet may decrease the risk of developing hypertension, according to a study published in Hypertension.

“Our study suggests that women who have had gestational diabetes may indeed benefit from a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and low in red and processed meats,” said Cuilin Zhang, MD, PhD, a senior investigator in the Epidemiology Branch of NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

The study included 3,818 women with a history of gestational diabetes who were part of the Nurses’ Health Study II in the ongoing Diabetes & Women’s Health Study. Participants were followed up from 1989 to 2011. Incident hypertension was identified through self-administered questionnaires, the results of which were validated by medical records. The questionnaires were administered every 4 years and also included information about eating habits. The researchers assigned adherence scores to the participants’ diets based on 3 healthy dietary approaches: the Alternative Health Eating Index, the Mediterranean-style Diet, and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH).

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During a median of 18.5 years of follow-up, the researchers documented 1,069 cases of hypertension. After adjusting for known hypertension risk factors (including smoking, family history, and BMI), Dr Zhang’s group found that women who followed healthy diets were 20% less likely to develop hypertensions, compared with women who did not follow health diets. Participants’ adherence scores for the 3 dietary patterns (with higher scores signaling better adherence) were significantly inversely associated with the risk of hypertension.


  1. Li S, Zhu T, Chavarro JE, et al. Healthful dietary patterns and the risk of hypertension among women with a history of gestational diabetes mellitus: a prospective cohort study. Hypertension. Published online ahead of print April 18, 2016. doi:10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.115.06747.