ward off heart failure

Many studies have shown that the DASH diet can help people lower their blood pressure. Now, researchers have found that individuals who follow DASH diet guidelines also reduce their risk of developing heart failure (American Journal of Preventive Medicine, May 10, 2019).

What Is the DASH Diet?

DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. This eating plan is rich in vegetables, fruit and low-fat dairy products. People following it eat nuts and legumes (beans and peas) regularly and rarely consume red meat or desserts. Sugar-sweetened beverages and alcohol are off limits on this diet. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute offers its guidelines for a DASH diet here. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics discusses the DASH diet plan here. Finally, the T. H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard University offers its review here.

Can More Vegetables Really Ward Off Heart Failure?

The study included nearly 4,500 participants of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. These individuals were under 75 years of age and they answered detailed questionnaires about their usual diets. During approximately 15 years of follow-up, the scientists noted which volunteers were diagnosed with heart failure. Those who followed DASH guidelines most closely were 60 percent less likely to have such a diagnosis compared to those whose usual diets were least compatible with this approach.

The study is observational, so scientists can’t claim that a DASH diet will infallibly ward off heart failure. However, this is not the first research to point in this direction. A review published a few years ago suggested that a DASH diet “may be optimal for patients with HF [heart failure]” (Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, Mar-Apr. 2016). Other reviews have reached similar conclusions (Nutrients, June 26, 2018). However, most of the scientists say they cannot draw clear conclusions without randomized controlled trials (Heart Failure Reviews, March 28, 2019). 

Drinking Coffee Is OK:

Exercise and other components of a healthy lifestyle can also help ward off heart failure. Surprisingly, people who consume coffee regularly lower their likelihood of this complication. An analysis of five studies with 140,000 participants found that those who drank approximately two cups of coffee daily were 11 percent less likely to develop heart failure than those who forgo their morning joe (Circulation: Heart Failure, July 2012). People who already have heart failure–that includes 5.8 million Americans–are often warned to avoid coffee. Despite that, the researchers say this study shows moderation makes more sense.

Learn More:

If you would like more details on following a DASH diet, you will find them in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies. Following the diet should help you lower your blood pressure and control your blood sugar as well as ward off heart failure.

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  1. Marilee

    Isn’t a problem with this kind of study that participants are sort of self selecting and self reporting? Those who will follow a DASH type diet are probably already leading a healthier life style, including how they eat and exercise? Randomized controlled studies are needed, yet are hard to implement. If a study relies on self reporting, it stands to reason that those willing to fully and honestly report and participate are less likely to have bad dietary habits, so they may skew the results.

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