WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet, popularly known as DASH diet, was developed to lower blood pressure, but a new study reveals it can also help in reducing the risk of depression.
- The DASH diet is composed mainly of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and foods that are low in saturated fats and sugar.
- This diet topped as the No. 1 overall diet for eight consecutive rankings by U.S. News and World Report.
The popular DASH diet has been proven by multiple studies to reduce blood pressure, bad cholesterol and body weight. A recent study found that the low-sodium diet can also decrease the risk of depression.
“Depression is common in older adults and more frequent in people with memory problems, vascular risk factors such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol, or people who have had a stroke,” said Dr. Laurel Cherian in a press release.
Dr. Cherian, a neurologist at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, is the study author and a member of the American Academy of Neurology,
“Making a lifestyle change such as changing your diet is often preferred over taking medications, so we wanted to see if diet could be an effective way to reduce the risk of depression,” he added.
About 1,000 subjects with an average age of 81 were observed for about six-and-a-half years. The participants were monitored for symptoms of depression and answered annual surveys regarding their diets.
The chance of getting depressed later in life was 11 percent lower among the participants who followed the DASH diet. Subjects who followed the Western diet, which is high in saturated fats, had higher risks of developing depression.
“We can’t silo a condition or body part from the rest of our bodies and our behavioral practices. … We should take a holistic view on conditions such as depression, mood, cognitive decline, stroke, cardiovascular disease and how food, nutrition and dietary habits affect risk of disease,” Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News’ senior medical correspondent, said.
“It’s never too late in life to change eating or exercise habits; the medical effects of both can be wide-ranging. The more we can integrate that, the better,” Ashton said.
The study will be presented in April at the American Academy of Neurology’s 70th Annual Meeting.
Source: ABC News