The new Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, also known as the Dash Diet, has been seen to significantly lower blood pressure, yet studies show African-Americans are less likely to adhere to the diet compared to whites.

The DASH diet is not only rich in fruits, vegetables and low fat dairy products but also low in fats and cholesterol.

Even with its healthier alternatives, health experts believe for the diet to be successful for African-Americans they should alter traditional recipes instead of eliminating certain foods altogether.

The study, which was published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, observed 144 patients who were overweight or obese, had high blood pressure and were not taking any medication.

The patients were randomly assigned to three groups: the DASH diet in alongside weight-loss counseling and aerobic exercise, the DASH diet alone or no change in diet or exercise habits. Results revealed, following the four months, that individuals in the DASH group with weight-loss counseling lost an average of 19 pounds. Individuals in the other groups' weight remained stable. However, participants in both the DASH diet and the DASH diet with counseling groups had a significant reduction in blood pressure.

In addition, researchers found African-American participants were less likely to adhere to the DASH diet.

"We need to be aware of cultural differences in dietary preferences in order to help people better adopt a DASH-friendly diet," said James A. Blumenthal, PhD, professor of behavioral medicine in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at Duke University Medical Center. "It is important to take into account traditional food choices and cooking practices when attempting to incorporate more DASH foods into daily meal plans."

Professor Blumenthal recommends altering "soul food" recipes to meet the nutritional guidelines as opposed to eliminating the foods completely.

"Given the success of the DASH diet, we know that changing lifestyles can make a significant difference in people's health," Blumenthal said. "And in the long run, if people are able to maintain changes to their diet and exercise habits, it can lead to a lower risk for heart attack and stroke."