Fight Heart Disease and Stroke with the DASH Diet - dummies

Fight Heart Disease and Stroke with the DASH Diet

By Sarah Samaan, Rosanne Rust, Cynthia Kleckner

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is designed to lower blood pressure, which is the leading cause of stroke and a major contributor to heart disease.

So it’s no surprise that studies that have looked at dietary patterns of average Americans have found a nearly 25 percent lower likelihood of heart disease and a 20 percent lower incidence of stroke in people whose dietary patterns mesh most closely with DASH, compared to those whose diets are the least healthy.

Thanks to its high content of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, as well as reduced red meat and saturated fat, DASH helps to reduce blood levels of inflammation, which is protective for both the heart and brain.

People who choose DASH are 30 percent less likely to develop congestive heart failure, in part because of the lower salt content. In those with diastolic dysfunction, a lower salt diet has been shown to improve or even reverse the condition. On top of all that, DASH can help you maintain a healthy body weight, which in and of itself reduces your cardiovascular risk.

The focus on low-fat dairy foods isn’t arbitrary. A Swedish study of more than 75,000 men and women found that, all other factors being equal, those who ate the most low-fat dairy (up to 4 servings per day) had a nearly 15 percent lower likelihood for stroke. The effect of full-fat dairy foods was basically neutral in this study.