Adhering to a low-fat, high-fiber diet dramatically reduced the risk of heart attack and stroke, according to a 24-year study of 88,000 healthy women. The research found that women who followed a diet similar to the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension—which calls for eating whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and low-fat dairy products to reduce blood pressure—made women 24 percent less likely to have a heart attack, and 18 percent less likely to have a stroke, than those following a less careful diet. (Archives of Internal Medicine)
What the commentators said
Doctors already knew the so-called DASH diet reduced cholesterol and blood pressure, said Elizabeth Cooney in The Boston Globe’s White Coat Notes medical blog. “But no studies had gone one step beyond those risk factors” to tell people how that translated into a longer, healthier life.
“It has long been known that a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in fat is good for the heart,” said Anna Boyd in eFluxMedia. “The DASH Diet is recommended by the USDA’s 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the American Heart Association and the U.S. High Blood Pressure Guidelines.” But this should silence anyone who still doubted the “huge benefits” of this sensible approach to eating.
This is certainly “good news” for people already sold on this diet, said Fiona Haynes in her Low Fat Cooking Blog on About.com. The women in this study weren’t strictly following the DASH diet, although their food choices were similar except for one thing. “The women who lowered their risk of heart attack and stroke included about a half serving of either red meat or processed meat a day, whereas the DASH diet emphasizes lean meat, poultry and plant-based proteins. Still, a serving size of red meat (three ounces) is about the size of a deck of cards, so a half serving was probably not enough to dilute the benefits of their otherwise healthy eating habits.”