New Study Shows That The DASH Diet Can Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke in Women

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Epidemiological research conducted by a nutritional scientist correlates the popular low-fat diet with a healthier heart and arteries

As its name indicates, the highly regarded DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) was originally developed to combat high blood pressure by reducing the intake of cholesterol and sodium. While the diet's effectiveness for that purpose has been documented, its positive effect on cardiovascular disease remained scientifically unproven--until now.

Researcher Teresa T. Fung, Sc.D., an associate professor of nutrition at the Simmons College School for Health Studies in Boston, recently published results in the Archives of Internal Medicine based upon the well-known Nurses' Health Study, conducted from 1980 to 2004. This study tracked the health and nutrition of 88,517 healthy female nurses aged 34 to 59, who had no initial evidence of cardiovascular disease, diabetes or risk factors for stroke.

Unlike previous studies, Fung and her colleagues looked at the effect of a DASH-like diet on cardiovascular endpoints such as heart disease and stroke. They calculated a score that took into consideration how closely the subjects' normal diets resembled DASH--low in animal protein, moderate in low-fat dairy products and high in plant proteins--and then counted the incidence of heart attacks, coronary-related deaths and strokes.

They found that, after a 24-year period, 2,129 women had a non-fatal heart attack, 976 died of coronary heart disease and 2,317 had strokes. The one-fifth of women in the group whose diets were most similar to DASH were 24 percent less likely to develop coronary heart disease and 18 percent less likely to have a stroke than the one-fifth of women with the lowest DASH scores.

The American Heart Association consistently recommends DASH as a nutritional program all Americans should follow, and it is also featured in the USDA's 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the U.S. High Blood Pressure Guidelines.

The DASH for Healthâ„¢ program at http://www.DashForHealth.com makes it easy to adopt as part of a long-term lifestyle. DASH for Healthâ„¢ does not require strict calorie-counting, supplementation or the elimination of any food group or category, but incorporates commonly found grocery store foods. The low-cost membership program provides access to hundreds of simple yet inventive DASH recipes, online community support and a personalized wellness program that you can use 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Many members improve their eating and exercise habits, lose weight sensibly and feel healthier with recipes, fitness tips, online meal tracking and more.

Start by signing up for your free DASH for HealthTM eating profile at http://www.DashForHealth.com. And before you know it, you will be enjoying a healthier lifestyle while minimizing your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.

Resource Box:
Thomas Moore, MD, is the founder of the Dash for Health program and the author of the best-selling book: The Dash Diet for Hypertension. He is Professor of Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine. Find out how to lose weight painlessly by claiming a free DASH eating profile at: http://www.DashForHealth.com

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