Diet to lower blood pressure also improved other factors in cardiac health

Diet to lower blood pressure also improved other factors in cardiac health

Diet to lower blood pressure also improved other factors in cardiac health

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in the United States. Public health advocates frequently site Americans' high-sodium diet as one factor in the nation's cardiac health. While sodium has been definitively linked to high-blood pressure—a key risk factor for CVD—few rigorously controlled studies make the direct causal link between high sodium intake and cardiovascular damage, heart attack, or stroke.

In a new analysis, researchers from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) examined three cardiovascular biomarkers, which are measurable indicators of cardiovascular health in the blood, to determine whether diet directly impacts cardiac health. Analyzing blood samples from clinical trial participants adhering to strict dietary regimens, the team showed that a diet proven to lower elevated blood pressure, known as the DASH diet, reduces inflammation. The findings, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, also showed that the DASH diet, alone or in conjunction with a low-sodium diet, reduces heart injury and strain.

"Our study represents some of the strongest evidence that diet directly impacts cardiac damage, and our findings show that dietary interventions can improve cardiovascular risk factors in a relatively short time period," said first and corresponding author Stephen Juraschek, MD, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine at BIDMC and Harvard Medical School (HMS). "The data reinforce the importance of a lifestyle that includes a reduced-sodium, DASH diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains to minimize cardiac damage over time."


The DASH, or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, diet has been proven to reduce blood pressure. It emphasizes consuming fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, whole grains, poultry, fish and nuts while limiting saturated fats, total fat, cholesterol, red meat, sweets and sugar-containing beverages. Developed in the 1990s with the specific goal of lowering blood pressure, the well-studied diet has also been shown to prevent cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular disease.

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