Dash Diet


Women who eat a diet low in protein of animal, moderate in low lipids dairy products and high in plant proteins, fruits and vegetables, or a typical DASH diet, tend to show a lower rate of coronary heart disease and stroke according to a recent JAMA article. The DASH diet stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The DASH diet has formed the basis for the new Food Pyramid and is supported by The National Heart, Lung, Blood, Institute, the American Heart Association, US guidelines for the treatment of high blood pressure and the USDA MyPyramid.

Interestingly, new DASH research has shown that limiting starchy foods may help to lower blood pressure further and this concept has recently been incorporated into DASH menus. The DASH diet has been shown to reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in individuals with high or normal blood pressure and has been recommended in the lowering of LDL cholesterol. The National Cholesterol Education Program has mentioned the DASH diet as an example of healthy eating patterns.

Using data from the Nurses Health Study, 88,517 female nurses aged 34-59, who showed no evidence of heart disease or diabetes, had DASH scores calculated from food history information gathered during a seven year period. Higher DASH scores were associated with a lower risk for heart disease or stroke. Higher DASH scores are also associated with lower C-reactive protein and interleukin 6, both inflammatory protein markers associated with heart disease risk.

More studies are needed to determine if these results can be extrapolated to other populations. The authors also recommend studies to compare the DASH diet to others known to predict the risk of heart disease such as the Mediterranean Diet.

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