Short-term effects of healthy eating pattern cycling on cardiovascular disease risk factors: Pooled results from two randomized controlled trials

Academic Article


  • Adherence to healthy eating patterns (HEPs) is often short-lived and can lead to repetitive attempts of adopting—but not maintaining—HEPs. We assessed effects of adopting, abandoning, and readopting HEPs (HEP cycling) on cardiovascular disease risk factors (CVD-RF). We hypothesized that HEP cycling would improve, worsen, and again improve CVD-RF. Data were retrospectively pooled for secondary analyses from two randomized, crossover, controlled feeding trials (n = 60, 52 ± 2 years, 30.6 ± 0.6 kg/m2) which included two 5–6 week HEP interventions (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension-style or Mediterranean-style) separated by a four-week unrestricted eating period. Ambulatory and fasting blood pressures (BP), fasting serum lipids, lipoproteins, glucose, and insulin were measured before and during the last week of HEP interventions. Fasting systolic BP and total cholesterol decreased (­6 ± 1 mm Hg and ­19 ± 3 mg/dL, respectively, p < 0.05), returned to baseline, then decreased again (­5 ± 1 mm Hg and ­13 ± 3 mg/dL, respectively, p < 0.05) when adopting, abandoning, and readopting a HEP; magnitude of changes did not differ. Ambulatory and fasting diastolic BP and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations followed similar patterns; glucose and insulin remained unchanged. Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations decreased with initial adoption but not readoption (­13 ± 3 and ­6 ± 3, respectively, interaction p = 0.020). Healthcare professionals should encourage individuals to consistently consume a HEP for cardiovascular health but also encourage them to try again if a first attempt is unsuccessful or short-lived.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • Nutrients  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • O’connor LE; Li J; Sayer RD; Hennessy JE; Campbell WW
  • Volume

  • 10
  • Issue

  • 11