Following the DASH diet — long proven to lower blood pressure — may also significantly lower the risk of heart problems, especially in women and Black adults, a new study suggests.
The Harvard-led study, published in the Jan. 15, 2023, issue of The American Journal of Cardiology, analyzed data from 459 adults who participated in the original DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) trial between 1994 and 1996, when they were ages 22 through 75. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three eating plans for eight weeks: a typical “Western” diet high in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol; a diet rich in fruits and vegetables; and the DASH diet, which emphasizes whole grains, lean protein, nuts, and low-fat dairy in addition to fruits and vegetables.
Both the fruit-and-vegetable and DASH diets reduced participants’ risk scores for heart problems by 10% over the eight-week period. But those benefits doubled among women and quadrupled among Black people who ate the DASH diet. Since high blood pressure is more strongly associated with heart failure and death in women, researchers said, the findings should help shape our lifestyle choices.
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