Individuals following the DASH Diet had 18 percent fewer strokes, 24 percent fewer heart attacks
A recent study has offered the strongest evidence so far that diet really does play a big role in preventing heart attack and stroke.
The research, which was published this week in the Archives of Internal Medicine, was an extremely large study: it followed 88,000 women for over 25 years. Food choices of the subjects were documented and then compared to the individuals' occurances of heart attacks and strokes. Those who made food choices most similar to the "DASH Diet" (which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) had 18 percent fewer strokes and 25 percent fewer heart attacks.
The DASH diet, in a nutshell, favors fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk and plant-based protein over meat. This is not really a new revalation, as we've known for many years that high-fiber, low-fat diets help with keeping cholesterol down... and cholesterol is a big factor in heart attacks. But the point is that now there is some very hard evidence.
The percentages are significant because stroke and heart attack are two of the most common health issues for older americans. Almost 2 in 5 American women will develop these diseases by the age of 50.
The study's lead author, Simmons College researcher Teresa Fung, said that because the evidence was so compelling that "even healthy people should get on it."
The study followed only women, but Fung said men would probably get similar benefits from the diet choices.
More details about the DASH diet are available on the National Institutes of Health web site.
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