Higher fat variation of DASH diet may see same benefits, less restrictions

January 13, 2016

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) dietary pattern, which is high in fruits, vegetables, and low fat dairy foods, has been shown to lower blood pressure as well as low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C). A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that a higher fat DASH diet may lower blood pressure to the same extent as the DASH diet, but also reduce triglycerides and not significantly raise LDL cholesterol.

The researchers tested whether the blood pressure benefit, as well as a favorable lipid and lipoprotein profile of the DASH diet, could be maintained with a modification of the DASH diet (HF-DASH) that included full-fat dairy foods. Compared to the DASH diet, the HF-DASH has more total and saturated fat and less carbohydrate, the latter achieved primarily by reducing fruit juices and other sugars.

The researchers used a randomized crossover trial of healthy individuals who ate a control diet (Control), a standard DASH diet (DASH), and a higher fat, lower carbohydrate modification of the DASH diet (HF-DASH) for three weeks each. The Control diet contained less fiber, fruits, and vegetables and more red meat than either of the DASH diets. Each diet period was separated by two-week washout periods and participants maintained a constant weight during the study.

Thirty-six adult participants completed all three diet periods. The researchers found that blood pressure was reduced similarly in the DASH and HF-DASH diet compared to the Control diet. The HF-DASH diet significantly reduced triglycerides and large and medium-sized very low-density lipoprotein particles in comparison with the DASH diet, and there was no significant difference in LDL-C response between these diets.

The researchers concluded that the modified HF-DASH diet is an effective alternative to the widely-recommended DASH diet, with less stringent dietary fat constraints, and therefore may see broader acceptance and implementation by the general public.