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The DASH Diet: Translating Current Knowledge into Practice

Highlights from a Webinar brought to you by the Registered Dietitians at Dairy Farmers of Canada in collaboration with Hypertension Canada

Speaker: Sally Chui, PhD, Research Scientist, Touro University California

Over 7.5 million Canadians live with hypertension today, and another 7.5 million have elevated blood pressure that will advance to hypertension without health behaviour management. Leading health authorities recommend focus on diet as a priority for managing hypertension and cardiovascular disease risk.

Based on decades of evidence, Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, the DASH diet is recognized as a gold standard dietary pattern high in vegetables, fruit, and dairy foods (4-5 servings of fruits, 4-5 servings of vegetable, 2-3 servings of dairy products).1-7

Recent studies have shown that modified DASH-style diets which offer more flexibility in food choices, including higher fat dairy foods (milk, yogurt and cheese) for example, may yield similar benefits for blood pressure and either similar or better control of blood lipids while helping to improve long-term dietary adherence as compared to a standard DASH diet, which includes mostly lower fat dairy products.1

Chui et al. (2016) examined the effects of incorporating high fat dairy foods in a reduced carbohydrate DASH-style diet.1 The reduction in carbohydrate was achieved by reducing fruit juices and easily digested carbohydrate from a standard DASH diet and increasing the fat content, primarily through replacing low and non-fat dairy foods with full fat dairy foods (milk, yogurt and cheese). This trial indicates that if we reduce carbohydrate content and allow for more liberal intakes of total and saturated fat from high fat dairy foods, we can:

  • Achieve blood pressure reductions comparable to a standard DASH diet
  • Improve components of atherogenic dyslipidemia (triglycerides and small, dense LDL-cholesterol)

Compared to the standard DASH diet, the high fat DASH-diet lowered triglycerides and did not raise LDL-cholesterol significantly while reducing more atherogenic small, dense LDL-C particles.

Other variations of the standard DASH diet include lean beef3,4 and pork5 and increased protein or unsaturated fat6 (replacing carbohydrate).

The DASH Diet has proven to be more effective for lowering blood pressure compared to other diets including Low Sodium and Mediterranean diets7 and is the most widely prescribed intervention for the prevention and management of hypertension and cardiovascular disease. It is endorsed by several health authorities including Hypertension Canada, the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada, Diabetes Canada, the American Heart Association (AHA)and is one of the healthy dietary patterns recommended in  the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

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