DASH Diet, Developed in Part at Pennington Biomedical, Ranks as the American Heart Association’s Top Heart-Healthy Eating Style

May 5, 2023

For more information, contact Ernie Ballard, ernie.ballard@pbrc.edu, 225-263-2677

BATON ROUGE – A new American Heart Association scientific statement assessed and scored the heart healthiness of popular dietary patterns, and the DASH Diet – developed in part at Pennington Biomedical Research Center – received a perfect score as the top heart-healthy eating plan.

“Pennington Biomedical has a long history and association with the DASH Diet,” said Dr. John Kirwan, Pennington Biomedical Executive Director. “Pioneering Pennington Biomedical researchers Dr. George Bray, Dr. Donna Ryan and Dr. Catherine Champagne were among the lead developers of the diet, as part of the DASH Diet Collaborative Research Group, along with Brigham and Women’s Hospital; Duke Hypertension Center and the Sarah W. Stedman Nutrition and Metabolism Center; and Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.”

The successful Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH, Diet study results were published in a 1997 New England Journal of Medicine publication, which has been cited by other researchers about 6,000 times since original publication.

“The DASH Diet is a great choice because it is proven to help those with a history of heart disease or people with diabetes, but it is really a diet plan for everyone because it is easy to follow, and it can work for anyone in the family,” said Dr. Champagne professor and registered dietitian nutritionist at Pennington Biomedical.

The statement, published in the association’s flagship, peer-reviewed journal Circulation, rates how well popular dietary patterns align with the American Heart Association’s Dietary Guidance. The guidance includes key features of a dietary pattern to improve cardiometabolic health, which emphasizes limiting unhealthy fats and reducing the consumption of excess carbohydrates. This balance optimizes both cardiovascular and general metabolic health and limits the risks of other health conditions such as Type 2 diabetes and risk factors such as obesity that may result from excess consumption of carbohydrates, particularly processed carbohydrates and sugar sweetened beverages.

The new scientific statement is the first to analyze how closely popular dietary patterns adhere to those features, and the guidance is focused on being adaptable to individual budgets as well as personal and cultural preferences.

“The number of different, popular dietary patterns has proliferated in recent years, and the amount of misinformation about them on social media has reached critical levels,” said Christopher D. Gardner, chair of the writing committee for the new scientific statement and the Rehnborg Farquhar Professor of Medicine at Stanford University. “The public — and even many health care professionals — may rightfully be confused about heart healthy eating, and they may feel that they don’t have the time or the training to evaluate the different diets. We hope this statement serves as a tool for clinicians and the public to understand which diets promote good cardiometabolic health.”

In the review, the DASH-style eating pattern received a perfect score by meeting all of the association’s guidance. These eating patterns are low in salt, added sugar, alcohol, tropical oils and processed foods, and rich in non-starchy vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes. Protein tends to be mostly from plant sources (such as legumes, beans or nuts), along with fish or seafood, lean poultry and meats, and low-fat or fat-free dairy products.

For more information, visit https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIR.0000000000001146.

About the Pennington Biomedical Research Center

The Pennington Biomedical Research Center is at the forefront of medical discovery as it relates to understanding the triggers of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and dementia. The Center architected the national “Obecity, USA” awareness and advocacy campaign to help solve the obesity epidemic by 2040. The Center conducts basic, clinical, and population research, and is affiliated with LSU.

The research enterprise at Pennington Biomedical includes over 480 employees within a network of 40 clinics and research laboratories, and 13 highly specialized core service facilities. Its scientists and physician/scientists are supported by research trainees, lab technicians, nurses, dietitians, and other support personnel. Pennington Biomedical a state-of-the-art research facility on a 222-acre campus in Baton Rouge.

For more information, see www.pbrc.edu.

Pennington Biomedical Research Center
6400 Perkins Road
Baton Rouge, LA 70808