DASH Diet Reduces Blood Pressure and 10-Year-Risk of Heart Attack

September 1, 2010

Following the DASH diet can reduce blood pressure, lower bad cholesterol, and decrease 10-year-risk of heart attack.

Research shows that people who follow the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet guidelines can reduce their 10-year-risk of heart attack.

According to a news release from the American Heart Association (AHA), the DASH diet -- which emphasizes the consumption of fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, whole grains, poultry, fish, and nuts, and calls for reduced intake of fats, red meat, sweets, and sugar-containing beverages — is not only “known to reduce blood pressure and bad cholesterol,” but new research confirms that if “also reduces the 10-year risk of heart attack.”

Results of the study, titled “The Effect of Dietary Patterns on Estimated Coronary Heart Disease Risk: Results from the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Trial,” were published ahead of print on the Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes website.

The study authors reported that the DASH plan:

  • Lowered the participants’ 10-year risk of having a heart attack or other coronary heart disease event by about 18% compared to those eating a typical American diet
  • Reduced bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) an average of 8%
  • Reduced systolic blood pressure overall by 6 millimeters of mercury (mmHg)

Nisa M. Maruthur, MD, MHS, study co-author and assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, said that the study “provides further evidence that we can make a significant impact on the heart health of the general population by promoting the DASH eating plan.”

For the study, the AHA reported that “436 patients (average age 45, 60 percent African-American) had either Stage I high blood pressure (140-159/90-99 mmHg) or were pre-hypertensive (120 — 139/80-89 mmHg) and assigned to one of three diets: the DASH eating plan; a typical American diet (low in minerals, such as potassium, magnesium and calcium, and high in saturated fat, total fat, and cholesterol); or the typical American diet plus additional fruits and vegetables.”

To determine how DASH affected coronary heart disease risk, the researchers “plugged their data (blood pressure and cholesterol results) into the Framingham Heart Risk Equation and calculated the 10-year risk of developing coronary heart disease.”

Maruthur said, “The blood pressure reduction in blacks seemed to be somewhat greater than in whites… blacks seem to be particularly sensitive to the blood- pressure-lowering effects of the DASH diet.”

More on the DASH diet:

Your Guide to Lowering Your Blood Pressure with DASH

DASH Diet Recipes from the Mayo Clinic

DASH for Health

DASH Diet Sample Menus