New research looked into the effects of following the DASH diet for people under 75 and the results are in. And they're mostly good.
So what even is the DASH diet? The name stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension and it's all about emphasizing the eating of fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, poultry, fish, and low-fat dairy products. At the same time, if you plan on following, you will have to reduce the consumption of salt, red meat, sweets, and sugar-sweetened beverages. It sounds very similar to the Mediterranean diet. But the difference lies in recommending low-fat dairy products and excluding alcohol.
The observational study conducted by researchers at Wake Forest School of Medicine had about 4,500 subjects. Those among them who closely adhered to the DASH diet ended up having a significantly lower risk of developing heart failure than the ones who had other dietary habits. The research was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
DASH diet gives you a 40% lower risk of heart failure
"Only a few prior studies have examined the effects of the DASH diet on the incidence of heart failure, and they have yielded conflicting results," said the study's lead author, Claudia L. Campos, M.D., associate professor of general internal medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine. "This research showed that following the DASH diet can reduce the risk of developing heart failure by almost half, which is better than any medicine."
The researchers reviewed the cardiovascular health records of 4,478 men and women of multiple ethnicities from six U.S. sites. They were between ages 45 and 84 and had no history of cardiovascular disease when they were enrolled in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis between 2000 and 2002. Then the researchers assessed their dietary habits over 13 years, based on a 120-item questionnaire. They were asked questions about their serving size and how often they consumed specific foods and beverages.
The scientists divided the participants into five groups, about 20 percent of the whole group each, all groups based on how well or poorly they aligned to the DASH diet.
Participants under 75 years of age who were closest to following DASH principles had a 40 percent lower incidence rate than those who were furthest from this specific diet.
"Heart failure is a frequent cause of hospitalization in older adults and is associated with substantial health care costs, so identifying modifiable risk factors for of heart failure is an important public health goal," Campos said. "This research provides a framework for further exploration of the DASH diet as an effective element in the primary prevention of heart failure."