The DASH eating plan emphasizes fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products as well as whole grains, poultry, fish and nuts. The plan also calls for a reduction in fats, red meat, sweets, and sugar-containing beverages. It is recommended by the U.S. government and American Heart Association. The study researchers found that the DASH plan:
- lowered the participants’ 10-year risk of having a heart attack or other coronary heart disease event by about 18 percent compared to those eating a typical American diet;
- reduced bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) an average of 8 percent; and
- reduced systolic blood pressure overall by 6 millimeters of mercury (mmHg).
In addition, glucose levels did not change significantly, likely because the study’s participants did not have diabetes. Adding more fruit and vegetables to the typical American diet did not produce the same degree of risk reduction as the DASH arm of the study. However, participants who ate the diet with more fruit and vegetables still lowered their 10-year risk of having a heart attack or other coronary event by an average of 11 percent compared to the typical American eating plan group.