The DASH diet may counter the health effects of the southern diet
- Researchers report that a traditional Southern diet of fried foods and processed meats may increase the risk of sudden cardiac arrest.
- Experts say you can improve your heart health and lower your blood pressure by using a DASH or Mediterranean diet that emphasizes fish, vegetables, and fruits.
- Experts recommend that anyone trying any of these heart-healthy diets start by slowly making changes to their eating habits and lifestyle.
The DASH diet can help lower blood pressure and reduce inflammation, as well as reduce heart damage and stress.
The same is true whether you use the DASH diet alone or in conjunction with a low sodium diet, although reducing your salt intake has additional benefits.
It is according to a new study recently published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Results gain in importance today when another study was published by the American Heart Association which concluded that the typical Southern diet of fried foods, processed meats, and drinks high in sugar may increase the risk of sudden cardiac death.
In it, researchers said the danger of death from cardiac arrest can be reduced by following a Mediterranean-style diet with higher volumes of fruits, vegetables, fish, whole grains, and legumes.
“Improving your diet by eating a diet abundant in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish like the Mediterranean diet and low in fried foods, organ meats and processed meats, characteristics of the Southern style diet, can reduce the risk. for sudden cardiac death, ”wrote James M. Shikany, DrPH, FAHA, study lead author and professor of medicine and associate director of research in the Division of Preventive Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
In the DASH diet study, researchers randomly assigned 412 participants (baseline 42% Black and 55% female) with elevated blood pressure to the DASH diet or a control diet designed to mirror a typical diet. in the United States with levels varying from low, medium to high sodium intake over 4 weeks.
While previous studies have shown the link between the DASH diet and lowered blood pressure, this is the first that takes a closer look at the role of salt.
Blood tests have been used to look for protein biomarkers or measurable indicators of heart health in the blood, including injury, stress, and inflammation.
In the DASH diet group, researchers said heart damage and inflammation were reduced by 18% and 13%, respectively.
They reported that combining the DASH diet with reduced sodium resulted in the greatest reductions in biomarkers for injury (20%) and stress (23%), although inflammation was not significantly affected by consumption of salt alone.
The DASH diet aims to lower sodium levels to meet the recommendations set out in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
But that’s not all.
“The way to eat DASH is arguably as much about optimizing potassium, magnesium and calcium – all of which are minerals that lower blood pressure – as it is about reducing sodium,” he added. Andy De Santis, RD, a published author and weight loss expert, told Healthline.
Kristin kirkpatrick, MS, RDN, nutritionist and author of “Skinny Liver,” said studies validated what she preached as a dietitian over the past 20 years.
“The DASH diet paired with a low sodium diet is a great example of what we Americans should be striving for for our bodies,” she told Healthline.
The low sodium level might be particularly effective for men looking to lower their blood pressure. De Santis said that men tend to consume more sodium than women.
The DASH diet encourages you to choose these foods more often:
- low fat dairy products
- whole grains
The DASH diet limits these types of foods and nutrients:
- saturated fats
- total fat
- Red meat
- sweets and drinks containing sugar
This way of eating is aligned with the Mediterranean diet, which is also generally associated with lower blood pressure and reduced heart risk.
Experts say that the DASH diet plan ranks highly because it is not really a diet.
Kirkpatrick said she tells her customers to approach any change in dietary habit keeping in mind that there must also be a change in lifestyle to ensure sustainability remains constant.
“Someone who consumes heavily processed foods on a daily basis may have a harder time switching to both a DASH lifestyle and a low sodium diet,” she said.
Here are some of Kirkpatrick’s tips for success:
- start with a diet that incorporates the DASH aspects
- gradually become stricter with the directives
- focus on low sodium foods
“Everyone will have a different starting point and see results at different times,” Kirkpatrick said. “Remembering that all change is positive and that the body adapts to any diet over time will help those who have just made the transition stay engaged.”
De Santis’ advice is to focus on what you will do, rather than what you think you shouldn’t be doing.
From there, he said, you can also start paying more attention to the sodium content of packaged products and meals and compare them with similar products, such as different sauces, and start choosing the ones. which contain less sodium.