A study by the School of Medicine at Wake Forest, NC conclude that a plant-rich Diet Approach aimed at Stopping Hypertension (DASH), can reduce advanced blood pressure and decrease heart failure risks in people below 75 years.
Lead author of the study Dr. Claudia L Campos said since older adults are frequently hospitalized for heart failure, identifying risk factors that can be modified is important as a goal of public health.
The DASH diet is high on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, beans, low-fat milk products, vegetable oils, fish and poultry. It restricts full-fat milk products, saturated fats, red meats, tropical oils (like coconut or palm), sweets, sugary drinks and salt.
Earlier studies have said that DASH diets reduce blood pressure and the ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL).
For a lifestyle that’s heart-healthy, the National Health Institutes (NIH) recommends DASH followed with regulating weight, exercising, consuming less alcohol, not smoking, sleeping well and managing stress. It differs from the Mediterranean diet only in emphasizing low-fat milk products and excluding alcohol completely.
At the start of the study spanning the years between 2000 and 2002, the participants of the study were men and women from multiple ethnicities, ages 45 to 84, without any existing cardiovascular conditions at the time.
Data for 13 years was analyzed with dietary responses being recorded through a 120-item questionnaire. The participants were grouped into 5 sets and the researchers ranked them on the basis of how close their eating patterns were to DASH. Then heart failure incidents were examined.
Results showed the DASH eating pattern had less effect on the risk of heart failure for all participants together. However, excluding those over 75 years showed a trend. Heart failure was 40% less in people below the age of 75 who followed DASH diet most closely, compared to those who didn’t follow it much.