Diet Helps Prevent Cardiac Problems in Women

veggiesIn the United States, a large study on the diets of women has showed some wonderful results. The study, involving 88,000 healthy women, followed their eating habits for 25 years. The women’s food choices were closely examined. They also kept track of the number of heart attack and stroke cases.

The diet the government recommends for lowering blood pressure can save people from heart attack and stroke. The diet consists mostly of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk and plant-based protein. The study reports that women who followed this diet were 24 percent less likely to have a stroke than women who eat the usual American meals.

According to the report the decrease is very significant since 2 out of 5 women develop cardiovascular disease (which includes strokes and heart attacks) by the time they are 50. The age of the women involved in the study range from mid-30s to late 50s. Previous studies on this kind of diet have shown pretty much the same results.

Women who think that they are healthy and/or do not have high blood pressure think that this diet is not for them however, Teresa Fung of Simmons University advises that even healthy women should get this kind of diet. This study showed that of the participants, 15,000 women have diets that resemble the low blood pressure diet. These women ate twice as much fruits, vegetables and grains as 18,000 other participants.

Fung believes that though the study is limited to women, men would likely get the same benefits from low blood pressure diets.

The study is quite limited because it only kept track of the women’s eating habits for 25 years. Unlike if, say, they went about their research by randomly assigning different diets to equal groups for women then comparing the results. But that would be difficult to do for a long period of time. But though the study is limited, it provides the best insight so far, into the long-benefits of a low blood pressure diet, says Dr. Laura Svetkey, director of Duke University’s hypertension center.

Svetkey added that "this study is aimed at helping people with prevention in a very practical way". The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the DASH diet, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, is available free at the NIH website.

However practical this approach to lower the risks of cardiovascular diseases is, there are still more people willing to take medication rather than change their eating habits, says Dr. Nieca Goldberg, medical director of New York University’s Women’s Heart Program. But Goldeberg says she makes it a point to discourage patients to opt for the pill saying "if you make these changes in your lives, it could … keep you off medication" in the long run.