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A new study by John Hopkins University proposes formula for good health

lesterol levels," says Appel. "But the protein and monounsaturated fat diets had an edge over the carbohydrate-rich diet."

The Hopkins findings from OmniHeart, to be presented Nov. 15 at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2005 and published simultaneously in the Journal of the American Medical Association, underscore the significant benefits from making dietary changes, the researchers say.

Overall, the protein-rich diet, derived from plant and animal sources, decreased cardiovascular disease risk by 21 percent. "Many people equate protein with meat, but it is not the only source of protein," says study co-author Phyllis McCarron, M.S., R.D., a dietitian at Hopkins. "Excellent plant sources of protein are beans, nuts, seeds and certain grains."

The monounsaturated fat diet, enriched with olive and canola oils, as well as various nuts and seeds, decreased risk by almost 20 percent.

The carbohydrate-rich diet used in the study decreased risk by roughly 16 percent. The carbohydrate-rich diet is similar to the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH diet, which Appel helped develop in 1997.

For the current study, which lasted about three years, researchers enlisted 164 generally healthy adults, both men and women ages 30 and over. "Because of the huge risk of stroke and heart attack in African Americans, the results are particularly applicable to this group, who made up roughly 55 percent of study participants," says study co-author Jeanne Charleston, R.N., a research associate at Hopkins' Bloomberg School of Public Health. Charleston adds that all participants either had high blood pressure (almost 20 percent) or were on the verge of having high blood pressure.

For six-week intervals, participants ate all of their food - including breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks - from one of the three diets. After a two-to-four-week break, participants started the six-week feeding period o
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