You are what you don’t eat.
A diet that helps people reduce high blood pressure or hypertension may also reduce the risk of heart failure in people under the age of 75, according to research published in the latest edition of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, and led by doctors at Wake Forest School of Medicine, which is part of Wake Forest Baptist Health in Winston-Salem, N.C.
An observational study of more than 4,500 people over 13 years showed that those individuals under 75 who most closely adhered to the Dash diet had a significantly lower risk of developing heart failure than those who were least likely to keep to the tenets of the diet. (Dash is an acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.)
“Only a few prior studies have examined the effects of the Dash diet on the incidence of heart failure, and they have yielded conflicting results,” said Claudia Campos, associate professor of general internal medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine. “Following the Dash diet can reduce the risk of developing heart failure by almost half.”
This Dash diet recommends fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, poultry, fish and low-fat dairy products, while reducing consumption of salt, red meat, sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages. It is very similar to the Mediterranean diet but, unlike that diet, it recommends low-fat dairy products and excluding alcoholic beverages.
There are other ways to eat healthier too. People who eat slowly are less likely to become obese or develop metabolic syndrome, a cluster of heart disease, diabetes and stroke risk factors, according to research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2017. They may be more conscious of what they are eating and drinking, and are less prone to overeating.
Dietitians also advise against snacking and takeouts. People have less control over what goes into their meals when they order in. Americans get most of their daily sodium — more than 75% — from processed food and restaurant food, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People eat an average of 200 calories more per meal when they eat food from restaurants..
“Excess sodium can increase your blood pressure and your risk for a heart disease and stroke,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. “Together, heart disease and stroke kill more Americans each year than any other cause.” Americans get 71% of their daily sodium from processed and restaurant food. Cooking for yourself is the safest and healthiest option.
Artificially sweetened beverages may be linked to an increased risk of stroke and dementia, according to the American Heart Association’s peer-reviewed journal Stroke. Another 2015 study found that older women who consume two or more diet sodas per day are 30% more likely to suffer a cardiovascular event. Add that to more research suggesting regular soda is linked to obesity.
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