Does The DASH Diet Lower Triglycerides?

The Dash diet is eating plan with a well-established reputation for lowering high blood pressure. A study done in 2001, and supported by the National Institutes of Health, found that the Dash diet was also effective in significantly lowering cholesterol levels. But does the Dash diet lower triglycerides?

In this same study, known as the DASH study, the levels of triglycerides of the 459 participants were not significantly changed on the Dash diet. However, Harvard Medical School published the following information in their publication titled The Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide:

A dose of DASH. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension trial tested a diet that emphasized fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods and limited red meat, saturated fats, and sweets. Compared with an average American diet, the DASH diet lowered systolic blood pressure (the upper number of a blood pressure reading) by 5.5 points and diastolic pressure (the lower number) by 3 points. A low-sodium DASH diet worked even better. The DASH diet lowers levels of harmful LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides, the main fat-carrying particles in the bloodstream. On the downside, it also reduces protective HDL (“good”) cholesterol.

In this same guide Harvard Medical School evaluated the results of four dietary trials and compared their effectiveness in reducing the risk of heart disease with the average American diet. Harvard Medical School looked at the following six health measurements:

  • total cholesterol
  • LDL cholesterol
  • HDL cholesterol
  • triglycerides
  • blood pressure
  • blood sugar

The five diets evaluated were the standard American diet, the Dash diet, a modified Dash diet, a diet containing a portfolio of cholesterol-lowering foods, and a Mediterranean type diet. Following is a description for each of these diets.

The Dash diet eating plan is low in saturated fat and cholesterol and high in fiber. In the Dash diet, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy foods are emphasized, red meat is eaten in the method amounts and also restricted our saturated fats and sweets.

The modified Dash diet which was used in the Optimal Macronutrient Intake Trial to Prevent Heart Disease or OmniHeart, for short, reduce some of the carbohydrates in the Dash diet and replaced it with additional good protein.

The diet described as containing a Portfolio of cholesterol-lowering foods included foods such as margarine with added plant sterols, oats, okra, almonds, soy protein, psyllium, eggplant and other foods rich in soluble fiber.

The Mediterranean type diet included the basics, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, beans and nuts, along with small amount of dairy, fish, protein and eggs.

Here is what they found:

DietTotal cholesterolLDLHDLTriglyceridesBlood pressureBlood sugar
Average American dietincreaseincreasedecreaseincreaseincreaseincrease
DASH dietdecreasedecreasedecreasesamedecrease?
OmniHeart higher proteindecreasedecreasedecreasedecreasedecrease?
Portfolio dietdecreasedecreasesamedecreasedecrease?
Mediterranean-type dietdecreasedecreaseincreasedecreasedecreasedecrease

As you can see, according to this study, three of the diets were effective in decreasing triglycerides. The Dash diet was not effective in decreasing triglycerides.
However, according to a randomized trial published in the 2005 December issue of Diabetes Care, the Dash diet lowered triglyceride levels by about four points. In this study, participants were assigned three diets to be followed for six months: a control diet, a weight reduction diet that emphasized healthy food choices and the Dash diet.

While the weight reducing diet led to significant changes in the triglyceride levels, the Dash diet was superior in improving the factors that contribute to metabolic syndrome. These include triglyceride levels, blood pressure, fasting blood sugar, weight, and the HDL cholesterol.