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Higher-Fat DASH Diet Linked with Decreased Blood Pressure

The DASH diet, which focuses on fruits, veggies, and low-fat dairy products, has topped the charts as the best overall diet for several years. More recently, research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition may provide a reason to rethink DASH: a study found that an altered version of the DASH diet, which substituted full-fat for low-fat dairy products and further reduced sugars and fruit juices, provided some of the same health benefits as the original DASH diet. The study was performed in three-phases; in each phase, separated by two week wash-out periods, the 36 healthy participants were randomly assigned to eat one of three diets—the standard DASH diet, the high-fat DASH diet, or a control diet—for three weeks. The order of the diets for each participant was determined randomly. At the end of each phase, researchers measured the participants’ blood pressure, LDL ("bad") cholesterol, and other markers of cardiovascular disease. Here is what they found:

  • The standard DASH diet and the high-fat DASH diet had similar blood pressure lowering effects compared with the control diet.
  • Participants’ triglyceride levels were lower after eating the high-fat DASH diet than after eating the standard DASH diet.
  • The standard and high-fat DASH diets had similar effect on LDL cholesterol levels.

These findings, which suggest a higher-fat version of DASH may be equally effective for lowering blood pressure, could make adherence to the diet easier and more palatable for some people for whom the original DASH diet was recommended. Future research is needed to tell us if the high-fat DASH diet is associated with some of the other health benefits previously seen with the standard DASH diet, such as lower risk of colorectal cancer and kidney stones. If you think you’re ready to DASH, consider your specific health goals and talk with your nutritionist or healthcare practitioner to find the right diet for you.

Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

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