DASH diet reduces risk for heart disease, stroke

by FoodBusinessNews.net Staff
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BOSTON — Women who generally follow the diet known as Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) appear to have a lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke, according to the April 14 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

The DASH diet is low in animal protein, moderate in low-fat dairy products and high in plant proteins, fruits and vegetables. Teresa T. Fung of Simmons College in Boston helped lead a study that analyzed 88,517 female nurses ages 34 to 59 who did not have cardiovascular disease or diabetes in 1980. Seven times from 1980 to 2004 the women reported the types of foods they ate regularly during the previous year, and the researchers calculated a DASH score for each woman with their scores increasing when they ate more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes and stayed close to the recommended amounts of low-fat dairy. Scores decreased with the more red and processed meats, sweetened beverages and sodium.

During the 24 years of the study, 2,129 women had a non-fatal heart attack, 976 died of coronary heart disease and 2,317 had strokes. Higher DASH scores were associated with a lower risk of heart disease and stoke. One-fifth of women who had diets most similar to the DASH diet were 24% less likely to develop fatal or non-fatal coronary heart diseases and 18% less likely to have a stroke than the women with the lowest DASH scores.

Overall, the diet has been shown to reduce blood pressure in individuals with high or normal blood pressure as well as reduce L.D.L. cholesterol.

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