Health & Wellness

8 Weeks to a Healthier Heart?

Eating more fruits and veggies seems to be the key

By Wendy Haaf

Eating more fruits and vegetables may reduce markers of early heart damage within just eight weeks, according to the results of a US study.

Scientists conducted their study using stored blood samples from previous research on the DASH diet. (Short for “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension,” the DASH diet was developed to help treat or prevent high blood pressure.) The diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy, and low in cholesterol and saturated fat.

Using new, highly sensitive tests, researchers measured levels of three substances: cardiac troponin (a protein that, in large amounts, indicates a heart attack), a hormone present at high levels in heart failure, and a protein that indicates inflammation. In samples taken eight weeks into the DASH study, measurements of the first two substances fell substantially both in participants who’d adopted an eating plan rich in fruits and vegetables, and in those who’d followed the DASH diet, compared to those who had continued consuming a typical Western diet.

As a result of the study, scientists commenting on the findings recommended that people increase their intake of fruits and vegetables to “at least 10 servings per day … regardless of health status.”

The study results were published in the academic journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

Photo: iStock/RomarioIen.