Scientists from Harvard Medical School and elsewhere found that the DASH diet may reduce heart disease risk in just 8 weeks.
Although modern risk estimators play a big role in helping people start therapy to prevent heart disease, there is little evidence to show how lifestyle interventions can reduce 10-year heart disease.
In the current study, researchers used data from the original DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) trial to examine the effects of the DASH diet on 10-year heart disease risk.
The DASH diet is an eating plan based on eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and choosing lean proteins, low-fat dairy, beans, nuts, and vegetable oils, while limiting sweets and foods high in saturated fats.
The team compared the effect of the DASH diet with a control or a fruits and vegetable diet.
The team used data from 459 adults aged 22 to 75 years without heart disease and not taking diabetes or high blood pressure medications.
These people were asked to eat a control diet, a fruits and vegetable diet, or the DASH diet for 8 weeks.
The team found that compared with the control diet, the DASH and fruits, and vegetable diets reduced 10-year heart disease risk by 10.3% and 9.9% respectively.
These effects were stronger in women and Black adults.
There was no difference between the DASH and fruit and vegetable diets.
Heart disease risk reductions attributable to the difference in systolic blood pressure alone were 14.6% lower with the DASH diet and 7.9% lower with the fruits and vegetable diet.
This suggested an advantage of a 7.2% greater reduction of blood pressure from DASH compared with fruits and vegetables.
The team also found that this benefit was offset by the effects on high-density lipoprotein of the DASH diet, which increased 10-year heart disease risk by 8.8% compared with the more neutral effect of the fruits and vegetable diet of -1.9%.
Based on the findings, the team suggests that compared with a typical American diet, the DASH and fruits and vegetable diets reduced 10-year heart disease risk scores by about 10% over 8 weeks.
These findings are important for helping patients to make choices of diet and make expectations for 10-year heart disease risk reduction.
The research was published in The American Journal of Cardiology and conducted by Sun Young Jeong et al.
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