8-Week Diet of Fruits & Vegetables Linked to Better Heart Health

A new observation study and analysis has looked at the links between markers of a healthy heart and three types of diets – the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet, a different fruit and vegetable rich diet, and a typical Western Diet. The conclusion is that diets which include lots of vegetables and fruits are associated with a healthy heart.

The team’s analysis drew on data from the DASH trial which was a trial that assessed the effects of a specially designed diet on blood pressure, and other types of diets in comparison. The DASH Diet was developed by nutrition specialists who were affiliated with NIH (National Institute of Health).

The DASH Diet mainly focuses on the intake of vegetables, fruits, low fat diary products, whole grains, fish, nuts, poultry and beans over a diet consisting mostly of red meats, sugar, fatty and salty foods.

The current study focused on the comparison of the effects of the three different diets on markers of heart health. The typical Western or American Diet reflected levels of nutrient consumption as reported by an average U. S. adult, while the diet rich in vegetables and fruits was in many ways similar however, it contained more natural fiber and contained fewer sweets and snacks.

The team looked at data from three randomly assigned groups of study participants from the DASH trial. The total number of participants in the current analysis was 326 and each followed one of the three diets noted above for 8 weeks.

The team then assessed the levels of three biomarkers which are related to heart health in serum samples, a component of blood that was collected from the participants. The samples had been collected initially after a 12 hour fast before the participants had begun their respective diets, and then at the end of the 8 week study period.

The serum biomarkers the team assessed were high sensitivity cardiac troponin I, N-terminal pro-B type natriuretic peptide, and high sensitivity C-reactive protein. Troponin helps regulate contractions of the heart muscle and overly high levels of this particular protein can indicate damage to the heart. High levels of C-reactive protein in the bloodstream can indicate inflammation, and very high levels of pro-B natriuretic peptide are a marker of heart failure.

After assessing all serum samples which were take before and after the 8 week diet period, the researchers found that people who had followed either the fruit and vegetable rich diet or the DASH diet had consistently and significantly lower concentrations of two of the biomarkers – pro-B type natriuretic peptide and troponin, over their peers who had followed the typical American diet.

The team suggests that these results indicate better heart health in those two groups of participants. Levels of the two biomarkers did not differ with the people who had followed either of the plant rich diets. C-reactive protein levels which can indicate inflammation, were not affected by any of the diets.

Although it isn’t quite clear which aspects of the DASH and fruit and vegetable rich diets may have benefited the health of the heart, the team do hypothesize that dietary features which are common to both of these diets including but not limited to higher magnesium, potassium, and fiber content, may be possible causative factors.

The team does caution that more research is needed to confirm whether similar diets might improve cardiac function in adults who have established heart failure.

To view the original scientific study click below

Associations Between Dietary Patterns and Subclinical Cardiac Injury.