Women's Heart Advisor October 2009 Issue

Popular Diet Reveals Hidden Heart-Protective Benefits

Even if you have normal blood pressure, you may want to give it a try.

The DASH diet is an important non-medical tool for lowering high blood pressure, a risk factor for coronary artery disease (CAD). Additionally, multiple studies have shown the diet has heart-healthy benefits that may or may not be the result of its effect on hypertension; in one study, it resulted in a 24 percent lower risk of death from CAD and 18 percent lower risk of stroke in women. Now an observational study published in the May 11 Archives of Internal Medicine found that women whose eating pattern was similar to the DASH diet reduced their risk of heart failure by 37 to 50 percent. Cleveland Clinic dietitian Melissa Ohlson, MS, RD, LD, explains how these benefits might occur. "The DASH diet has a phenomenal effect on blood pressure. Additional studies have shown the DASH diet can lower LDL. The diet is high in nutrients and low in calories, making it a sound choice for weight management and reducing diabetes risk. These conditions—blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and diabetes—are risk factors for coronary artery disease, so it’s no surprise that the DASH diet reduces the risk of heart failure, one of the most serious consequences of CAD," she explains.

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