DASH Diet Slow To Take Off With African Americans

Faithfully adhering to the Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is associated with considerably lowering blood pressure, but research suggests African Americans are far less likely to consistently stick to it than their white counterparts possibly due to “culturally sensitive” diets.

A study from Duke University, which was published in Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics on September 19, examined 144 sedentary overweight or obese adults who have high blood pressure, The Huffington Postreported.

The results revealed that African Americans were far less likely to choose a DASH diet than whites in the same condition.

According to TheHeart.org:

“The DASH study, first published in 1997, showed that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, grains, and low-fat dairy products significantly lowers blood pressure, especially in hypertensive patients. Systolic and diastolic blood pressure in hypertensive patients in the DASH trial was lowered 11.4 mm Hg and 5.5 mm Hg, respectively. Based on these findings, the national guidelines, both the JNC-6 and JNC-7, included the DASH diet among the therapeutic lifestyle changes advocated for all patients with or at risk for high blood pressure, regardless of concomitant antihypertensive drug therapy.”

Lead investigator in the study, James A. Blumenthal, PhD, Professor of Behavioral Medicine at Duke University Medical Center, said, although African Americans adopt a DASH diet and eat foods recommended accordingly, they are still more likely to consume “considerably more meat, sweets, and fat, and less fruit.”

Some researchers speculate that much of the hesitance to fully embrace the diet comes from culinary traditions.

“Strong cultural influences on food preferences, food preparation, and perceptions about eating practices might make it more challenging for African Americans to adhere to the DASH diet,” Blumenthal said.

Dr. Khaalisha Ajala from ABC News did an analysis of the report:

“I know grandma made that delicious Sunday dinner with love, but with its conventional ingredients, you will have a harder time getting your blood pressure under control.”