Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in the United States.
Public health advocates frequently cite Americans’ high-sodium diet as one factor in the nation’s cardiac health.
While sodium has been definitively linked to high blood pressure—a key risk factor for CVD—few studies make the direct causal link between high sodium intake and heart damage, heart attack, or stroke.
In a study from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, scientists found a diet to lower blood pressure also improved other factors in heart health.
They examined three cardiovascular biomarkers to determine whether diet directly impacts cardiac health.
They also analyzed blood samples from clinical trial participants adhering to strict dietary regimens.
The team showed that a diet proven to lower elevated blood pressure, known as the DASH diet, reduces inflammation.
The findings also showed that the DASH diet, alone or in conjunction with a low-sodium diet, reduces heart injury and strain.
The study represents some of the strongest evidence that diet directly impacts cardiac damage, and our findings show that dietary interventions can improve cardiovascular risk factors in a relatively short time period.
The findings reinforce the importance of a lifestyle that includes a reduced-sodium, DASH diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains to minimize cardiac damage over time.
The DASH, or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, diet has been proven to reduce blood pressure.
It emphasizes consuming fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, whole grains, poultry, fish and nuts while limiting saturated fats, total fat, cholesterol, red meat, sweets and sugar-containing beverages.
Developed in the 1990s with the specific goal of lowering blood pressure, the well-studied diet has also been shown to prevent cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, heart attack, stroke and other heart problems.
If you care about blood pressure, please read studies about a key contributor to high blood pressure, and common diet could help lower high blood pressure in older people.
For more information about heart health, please see recent studies about how COVID-19 damages the heart, and results showing one cup of nitrate-rich vegetables a day keep heart disease at bay.
The study was conducted by Stephen Juraschek et al and published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
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