Replacing Some Carbohydrates with Protein and Unsaturated Fat May Enhance Heart Health Benefits
Diets that emphasize protein and monounsaturated fat are more effective in reducing some risk factors and estimated risk for heart disease than a diet richer in carbohydrates.
Schmalfeldt: It's known as the "DASH Eating Plan." That doesn't mean you should "dash" to the dinner table and eat as quickly as you can. In fact, DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. For some time now, doctors have been recommending this plan to their patients seeking to employ a better diet to control high blood pressure. Doctor Eva Obarzanek, a research nutritionist with the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, explains.
Obarzanek: We already knew that there were certain dietary patterns that were healthy — one in particular is called the DASH dietary pattern. It's rich in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, and includes whole grains and it's low in saturated fat. And that diet is nutritionally adequate, it meets all the recommendations, and has been shown to lower blood pressure and blood lipids. But we also thought that there might be some modifications to that that might produce even more benefits. And so we tried to test that in this new study.
Schmalfeldt: That study was called the OmniHeart study — an acryonym for the Optimal Macronutrient Intake Trial to Prevent Heart Disease. Scientists looked at three separate diets — one that emphasized carbohydrates, one that emphasized protein, and one that emphasized monounsaturated fat. All three diets lowered blood pressure, improved cholesterol levels and reduced the ten-year risk of heart disease. But Dr. Obarzanek, who was one of the authors of the study, said that the diets that emphasized protein and monounsaturated fat were even more effective in reducing some risk factors and estimated risk for heart disease than the diet richer in carbohydrates.
Obarzanek: We calculated a cardiovascular disease risk score, and what we found was that the DASH diet lowers your risk by about 15 percent, and the other two diets lowered the risk — one by 20 percent, the other by 21 percent.
Schmalfeldt: These new OmniHeart study results do not represent new guidelines for healthy eating and the proportions of carbohydrate, protein and fat for all three diets are within the ranges recommended by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans and other national public health organizations. The new DASH Eating Plan menus are included in the book, "A Healthier You", published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. From the National Institutes of Health, I'm Bill Schmalfeldt in Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Bill Schmalfeldt
Sound Bite: Dr. Eva Obarzanek