Here’s How The DASH Diet Reduces Cardiovascular Risk Among Black People

Here’s How The DASH Diet Reduces Cardiovascular Risk Among Black People

A proper diet is crucial for maintaining a healthy heart.

A new study by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center researchers found that the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet reduced the 10-year cardiovascular risk score by 14% among Black adults compared to 3% among non-Black adults.

According to The Harvard Gazette, researchers compared the effects of the DASH diet to a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and the Western diet, which is typically low in fruits and vegetables but high in fat and sodium. Patients’ risk of experiencing a cardiovascular event in the next 10 years were studied based on the three eating patterns.

“While physicians and patients rely on the extensive data available when choosing appropriate pharmacologic therapy to prevent atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, there’s limited evidence to inform expectations for risk reductions from established lifestyle interventions,” said Stephen P. Jurashcek, corresponding author and clinician-researcher in the Department of Medicine at BIDMC.

Over eight weeks, the team found that the DASH and fruit and vegetable diets reduced risk scores by around 10%. Researchers also discovered additional benefits of the DASH diet for women and Black adults.

“Our study suggests that the benefits associated with these diets may vary by sex and race,” Jurashcek said.

“While a diet rich in fruits and vegetables produced reductions in risk for women and Black participants, the effect with the DASH diet was twice as large in women and four times as large in Black adults.”

Data acquired by Jurashcek and colleagues included 459 adult participants from the original Dash trial between 1994 and 1996, who ranged from ages 22 to 75. The participants, roughly half women and Black were randomly matched to one of the three diets for eight weeks. This helped the team determine how the different diets affected an individual’s risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.

“Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in women and hypertension is also more strongly linked with heart failure and death in women than men,” said Sun Young Jeong, an internal medicine resident at BIDMC. “We also know women are less likely to receive risk factor modification therapies, such as statins, so our finding that DASH may be more efficacious among women are relevant for lifestyle counseling in this group.”

“Similarly, disparities in access to healthy foods has been a major focus of policy efforts to promote higher intake of fruits and vegetables among Black adults” said Juraschek.

“Our study suggests that the DASH dietary pattern may offer Black adults more prevention benefits than the emphasis on fruits and vegetables alone. This is particularly relevant as dietary pattern has been identified as one of the most important mediators of hypertension risk among Black adults.”

The DASH diet provides more fruits and vegetables, emphasizing whole grains, lean proteins, nuts, and low-fat dairy while reducing fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sugar.

Findings from the study are published in the American Journal of Cardiology.