The so-called Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet may also cut your risk of heart failure in half, according to a new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
The DASH diet is low in sodium and saturated fat while emphasizing fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. These food choices are high in fibre, calcium, magnesium and potassium - nutrients linked with lower blood pressure.
In this study, researchers assessed the diets of 36,019 women, aged 48 to 83, and calculated a score indicating how closely their diets matched DASH guidelines.
On average, women with the highest DASH diet scores ate three servings of fruit, 3.5 servings of vegetables, 5.1 servings of whole grains, 1.6 servings of low-fat dairy and less than one serving of red or processed meat each day.
Their peers who followed the DASH diet less closely ate an average of 1.4 servings of fruit, 1.8 servings of vegetables, 3.3 servings of whole grains, 0.6 servings of low-fat dairy and 1.3 servings of red or processed meat.
After seven years, compared with women who had the lowest DASH diet scores, women with the highest scores were 37 percent less likely to develop heart failure.
The researchers say the degree of blood pressure lowering achieved by the DASH diet could reduce the rate of heart failure by about 12 percent.
In addition to lowering blood pressure, previous research has shown the DASH diet to be effective at improving other heart disease risk factors such as abdominal obesity, high blood triglycerides (fats) and high blood glucose.
To make your diet more heart healthy, try eating more whole grains by substituting whole wheat, spelt, or kamut pasta for white pasta.
For recipes and meal ideas that are good for lowering blood pressure and reducing heart failure risk, check out Delicious DASH Flavours, our January 2009 Cookbook Review.
All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.