The DASH diet is known to be one of the best to improve the heart pressure. But now it goes further, and it is that after an investigation carried out by the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), in the United States, they have corroborated that the diet to reduce the blood pressure it also improves other factors of heart health.
All this after examining three cardiovascular biomarkers, which are measurable indicators of cardiovascular health in the blood, to determine if diet directly influences heart health.
After testing blood samples from clinical trial participants following strict dietary regimens. In this way the team showed that a diet proven to reduce high blood pressure, known as the DASH diet, reduces inflammation. The results, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, also showed that the DASH diet, alone or in conjunction with a low sodium diet, reduces injuries and stress on the heart.
“Our study represents some of the strongest evidence that diet directly influences heart damage, and our findings show that dietary interventions can improve cardiovascular risk factors in a relatively short period of time,” notes the first author and correspondent, Stephen Juraschek, assistant professor of medicine at BIDMC and Harvard Medical School (HMS).
The DASH diet and its importance
As he highlights, “the data reinforce the importance of a lifestyle that includes a DASH diet low in sodium and rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains to minimize heart damage over time.”
The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet has been shown to lower blood pressure. Emphasizes eating fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, whole grains, poultry, fish, and nuts, while limiting saturated fat, total fat, cholesterol, red meat, sweets, and drinks with sugar.
Developed in the 1990s with the specific goal of lowering blood pressure, this much-studied diet has also been shown to prevent cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular disease.
The current study builds on two recent analyzes in which Juraschek and his colleagues found that the DASH diet reduced markers of heart injury, stress, and inflammation. However, these earlier studies did not specifically examine the effects of sodium reduction, alone or in combination with a DASH-style diet program, on cardiovascular health.
In the team’s current analysis, Juraschek and his colleagues, including lead author Kenneth J. Mukamal, associate professor of medicine at BIDMC and HMS, analyzed stored samples from the DASH-Sodium study, conducted at four medical centers in the United States. between 1997 and 1999.
Study of people with high blood pressure
In that earlier study, the researchers enrolled 412 participants with elevated blood pressure and randomly assigned them to either the DASH diet or a control diet designed to reflect a typical American diet.
Within those two groups, each participant was assigned to one of three sodium levels (low, medium, or high) for four weeks. In a controlled eating study, all meals and snacks were provided to participants, who ate one main meal per day under observation and consumed the rest outside of their diet.
Juraschek and his team analyzed the stored samples from this study for three biomarkers, or measurable substances in the blood that have been shown to predict cardiovascular events in adults without known cardiovascular disease.
Biomarkers, which are proteins known as high-sensitivity cardiac troponin I (hs-cTnI), N-terminal brain pro-naturetic peptide (NT-proBNP), and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), are related to three distinct pathways of subclinical cardiac damage: injury, stress, and inflammation, respectively.
Decreases heart damage and inflammation
The analysis revealed that, among trial participants following the DASH diet, biomarkers related to heart damage and inflammation decreased by 18% and 13% respectively. Participants who combined the DASH diet with a reduced sodium impact experienced the greatest reductions in damage and stress biomarkers – 20 percent and 23 percent, respectively – while inflammation had no significant impact.
While the DASH diet alone did not reduce the stress biomarker, stress biomarkers decreased by 19 percent in study participants who ate low-sodium diets, whether they followed the DASH diet or the control diet. However, reducing sodium alone did not have a beneficial impact on heart injury or inflammation.
‘We use highly sensitive markers of subclinical cardiovascular disease to show how two dietary strategies can improve different mechanisms of subclinical cardiac injury in a relatively short period of time, suggesting that the improvements in cardiovascular disease risk factors seen from a reduced sodium DASH diet can also reduce concurrent heart damage, ”explains Juraschek.
The researcher assures that this study “has important clinical implications, and these findings should reinforce the public decision to promote the DASH dietary pattern and reduce sodium intake in the world.”