Diet-NutritionHeart DiseaseStroke

Long-term benefits of the DASH diet

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet lowers blood pressure, but what about its long-term effect on the risk of heart disease and stroke?

First, the details.

  • 88,517 female nurses aged 34 to 59 years with no history of cardiovascular disease or diabetes in 1980 were studied.
  • Their diet was assessed prospectively 7 times over 24 years (1980-2004) using questionnaires.

And, the results.

  • There were 2129 cases of nonfatal heart attacks, 976 deaths due to coronary heart disease, and 3105 cases of stroke.
  • After adjusting for age, smoking, and other cardiovascular risk factors, the relative risks of heart disease and stroke were significantly lower with DASH.
  • DASH was significantly associated with lower plasma levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin 6.
    • Arterial damage is thought to result from inflammation due to chemical insults.
    • CRP is a marker for inflammation and can be used as a proxy for heart disease risk.
    • Interleukin-6, also associated with inflammation, has been linked with heart disease.

The bottom line?
Over more than 2 decades, women who followed the DASH-style diet had a lower risk of heart disease and stroke.

The DASH-style diet is low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and total fat; and high in fruits and vegetables, and fat-free or low-fat milk products. Here’s more background on the diet in the book, Hypertension and Stroke 2007.

4/14/08 18:56 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.