Introduction: More Than Just Hypertension
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) is a well-known diet plan that promotes eating fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins while limiting salt, red meat, and fatty foods.
As the name implies, it’s designed to prevent or manage high blood pressure. But what if the DASH diet does more than that?
Studies suggest that sticking to this diet might also help reduce other cardiovascular risk factors.
New Approach: A Closer Look at Iranian Adults
In this study, the team wanted to explore this potential further. They conducted a cross-sectional study involving 2,831 adults from 27 counties in Khuzestan province, Iran.
These participants were chosen through a method called multistage cluster sampling.
They calculated each participant’s DASH score based on their responses to a food frequency questionnaire. This score gives an idea of how closely each person’s diet aligns with the DASH diet.
The team then used regression models, a type of statistical analysis, to explore the connection between DASH scores and common cardiovascular risk factors.
Findings: A Possible Protective Effect
As DASH scores increased, indicating greater adherence to the DASH diet, we saw significant reductions in several heart risk factors.
These included systolic blood pressure, fasting blood sugar, triglycerides, total cholesterol, and its components.
Even after adjusting for factors that could potentially influence these results (like sex, age, ethnicity, residence, socioeconomic status, physical activity, total energy intake, and family history of heart disease), the trend remained.
Participants in the highest quintile of DASH scores (those who adhered most closely to the diet) were less likely to have high blood sugar levels.
Conclusion: The Promise of the DASH Diet
These findings suggest that following the DASH diet may be linked to lower levels of glucose, triglycerides, and cholesterol in the blood – key risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
This adds to the growing evidence that the DASH diet could potentially benefit cardiovascular health beyond just managing high blood pressure.
However, it’s important to note that our study is cross-sectional, meaning it provides a snapshot of one point in time.
The team can’t draw conclusions about cause and effect from this type of study. They need prospective studies, which follow participants over time, to confirm these findings.
Nevertheless, the results offer another compelling reason to consider the DASH diet for overall heart health.
The research was published in International Journal of Preventive Medicine.
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