Original DASH Found to Lower High Blood Pressure Results from the original DASH study showed a diet low in fat, high in fruits, vegetables and low fat dairy products can reduce blood pressure to the same degree as medication.
How much more produce and dairy do you need? According to the original DASH, eating four to five fruit servings (bananas, oranges, raspberries, for example), four to five vegetable servings (carrots, spinach, sweet peppers, broccoli) and two to three low-fat dairy servings (nonfat milk, low-fat or nonfat yogourt), along with limiting total fat to no more than 26% of calories can lower blood pressure dramatically.
In all participants (those with and without hypertension) the DASH diet lowered systolic pressure (the top number) an average of 5.5 mm Hg and diastolic pressure (the bottom number) 3.0. In men and women with hypertension, the reductions were even more striking: 11.4 in systolic readings and 5.5 in diastolic pressures. "That can be enough to bring some people out of the category of high blood pressure into one of normal pressure," says leading hypertension expert Lawrence J. Appel, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of medicine, epidemiology and international health at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and chief investigator of the nationwide study of diet and blood pressure called DASH, or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. Such reductions are also enough to prevent high blood pressure.
Overall, says Dr. Appel and other DASH researchers, we could reap big returns if everyone simply doubled their intake of fruits, veggies and low-fat dairy and cut dietary fat. How big? Some 27% fewer strokes and 15% less artery-clogging heart disease, they estimate.
Newer analysis of this data suggests DASH also cuts your risk of developing heart disease.
DASH Cuts Heart Disease Risk
Findings published in the July 2001 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reveal the DASH diet significantly reduces:
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or "bad" cholesterol both of which lead to artery-clogging plaque.
DASH Diet Reduces Homocysteine
In addition, the Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, published information revealing that the DASH diet:
Reduces homocysteine, an amino acid that, when it is elevated, appears to increase the risk of heart disease.
How Can You Reap Benefits? Now the question is how can you reap these benefits? The basics of the DASH diet are similar to recommendations you may already know:
Eat more plant-based foods paired with smaller amounts of lean protein such as chicken or fish and heart healthy vegetable fats.
However, the DASH diet goes a step further, including:
8 to 10 servings of fruits and/or vegetables per day.
2 to 3 servings of low fat dairy foods per day
Nuts, seeds or beans 4 to 5 times per week.