Researchers who conducted a 24-year study of 88,517 women discovered that those who ate little meat, low-fat dairy products and lots of produce lowered their risk of heart disease and stroke. Teresa T. Fung and colleagues at Simmons College in Boston conducted the research.
Participants in the study were female nurses who did not have cardiovascular disease or diabetes. The study was conducted from 1980 and 2004, and the women ranged in age from 34 to 59 at the start of the study, according to United Press International.
Researchers were interested in how closely the women followed the DASH diet - DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. Over the course of the study, participants were asked seven times to report the types of foods they ate regularly over the previous year. Then, researchers calculated a DASH score, where participants scored higher for eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes and stayed close to the recommended amounts of low-fat dairy. Scores decreased with increased consumption of red and processed meats, sweetened beverages and sodium.
The study found the women who had diets most similar to the DASH diet were 24 percent less likely to develop fatal or nonfatal coronary heart disease and 18 percent less likely to have a stroke than the women with the lowest DASH scores.
You can learn more about the DASH diet here.
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