A diet rich in fruits and vegetables given over a relatively short period of time was associated with significantly lower levels of markers for subclinical cardiac damage and strain in adults without preexisting cardiovascular disease (CVD). Findings from an observational analysis of the DASH trial are published in Annals of Internal Medicine.
Observational studies show that a healthy diet is linked to a reduced risk for CVD events, leading many to advocate for stronger public policy to promote healthy food choices.
Critics, however, point to a dearth of evidence to support the hypothesis that adopting a healthy diet directly reduces CVD injury or is effective for the primary prevention of CVD.
Researchers from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center studied data and stored serum specimens for 326 participants of the original DASH trial to compare the effects of diets rich in fruits and vegetables with a typical American diet in their effects on cardiac damage, cardiac strain, and inflammation in middle-aged adults without known preexisting CVD.
They found that after 8 weeks, participants in both the fruits and vegetables and the DASH diet groups had significantly lower concentrations of the biomarkers for subclinical cardiac damage and strain compared with control group.
These associations did not differ between the DASH and fruit and vegetable diets, and none of the diets affected hs- CRP, a marker of inflammation.
The authors hypothesize that dietary factors common to both the DASH and fruit-and-vegetable diets, such as higher amounts of potassium, magnesium, and fiber, may partly explain the observed effects.
These findings strengthen recommendations for the DASH diet, or increased consumption of fruits and vegetables as a means of optimizing cardiovascular health.