The DASH Diet and African American Heart Health

African Americans are especially likely to develop hypertension and complications from high blood pressure. When the DASH diet was being developed, special attention was paid to ensuring that the diet was beneficial for African Americans. The researchers included more blacks than are present in the general American population. And the results showed that the DASH Diet improved blood pressure significantly in African Americans.

What are some of the ways that the DASH Diet is an improvement in eating style compared with traditional habits?

  •  The DASH diet is rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables. This increases potassium, which helps to reduce fluid retention due to excess sodium. In general, African Americans tend to not include as many fruits in their diet, and have less variety of fruits and vegetables, compared with the entire American population.
  •  The DASH diet is rich in dairy. Calcium and vitamin D are important for lowering blood pressure. And African Americans are less likely to consume milk due to lactase deficiencies. (Fermented dairy products, such as yogurt and cheese have much lower levels of lactose.) This can result in a vitamin D deficiency. And to be sure, there is an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency in the overall American population.) Additional concerns about low levels of vitamin D include increased risk for some types of cancer, most of which have higher mortality rates for African Americans.
  •  The DASH diet is low in unhealthy fats that increase the risk of heart disease.
  •  The DASH diet is filling, while being lower in calories. African Americans are more likely to be overweight or obese, and will find the DASH diet a healthy way to moderate calorie intake.
  •  The DASH diet is moderate in sodium. African Americans are more likely to be sensitive to sodium, and to benefit from reducing sodium in the diet.

Read about DASH diet in the News.

Read about new DASH diet research.