Top-Rated Diets for Promoting Heart Health

Maintaining a healthy diet is a crucial objective for individuals seeking to enhance or preserve their physical well-being, particularly when it comes to heart health. The abundance of conflicting information available online and through social media can make it challenging, and even bewildering, to find the perfect eating plan for you.

To assist in navigating this maze of information, experts have evaluated and ranked the heart healthiness of various popular diets. Each diet was assessed based on the American Heart Association’s guidelines for a heart-healthy eating pattern, which emphasizes the consumption of a diverse range of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins (including fish, low- or non-fat dairy, and plant proteins), non-tropical plant oils, and minimally processed foods. The guidance also advises against consuming added sugars, excessive salt, and alcohol, while encouraging individuals to adhere to these principles even when dining away from home.

The diets were assigned scores ranging from 0 to 100 and classified into tiers. The analysis and findings were published as a scientific statement by the American Heart Association in the journal “Circulation.”

According to Christopher D. Gardner, Ph.D., FAHA, the chair of the scientific statement writing committee and the Rehnborg Farquhar Professor of Medicine at Stanford University, “The top-tier dietary patterns, if followed as intended, best align with the key aspects of heart-healthy eating and can be adapted to respect cultural practices, food preferences, and budgets, enabling individuals to adopt this way of eating for the long term.”

Tier 1: Highest-Rated Eating Plans (scores above 85) The following four eating patterns received the highest ratings as they align most closely with heart-healthy guidelines, offer flexibility, and provide a wide variety of healthy food options:

  1. DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) – This plan, which scored a perfect rating by meeting all the guidance, emphasizes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, low-fat dairy, lean meats, poultry, fish, and non-tropical oils. Nordic and Baltic diets also fall within this category, featuring low salt, added sugar, alcohol, tropical oils, and processed foods.
  2. Mediterranean – While this pattern limits dairy consumption, it places emphasis on fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, fatty fish, and extra-virgin olive oil. The inclusion of moderate alcohol consumption, rather than avoiding or limiting it, resulted in a slightly lower score compared to DASH.
  3. Vegetarian/Pescatarian – This plant-based eating pattern includes fish.
  4. Vegetarian/Ovo/Lacto – These plant-based eating patterns incorporate eggs (ovo-vegetarian), dairy (lacto-vegetarian), or both (ovo-lacto vegetarian).

Tier 2: Vegan and Low-Fat Diets (scores between 75-85) These eating patterns mostly adhere to heart-healthy criteria and emphasize essential food groups. However, they fell short of reaching the top tier due to certain limitations:

  1. Vegan – This plant-based eating pattern excludes all animal products. The restrictions in this plan may make it more challenging to follow long-term or when dining out. Following a vegan eating pattern increases the risk of nutrient deficiencies, but this can be mitigated through the use of supplements or fortified foods.
  2. Low Fat – This diet restricts fat intake to less than 30% of total calories and includes plans like the volumetrics eating plan and therapeutic lifestyle change plan. While these diets treat all fats equally, the American Heart Association’s guidance suggests replacing saturated fats with healthier alternatives such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Those following low-fat diets may consume excessive amounts of less healthy carbohydrates, such as added sugars and refined grains. However, with proper counseling and education from a healthcare professional, these challenges can be overcome.

For a comprehensive understanding of the full results and to learn more about heart-healthy eating, you can visit

Sam Allcock

Sam Allcock is the founder of PR Fire. He helps small to medium-sized businesses land coverage in publications through smart press release distribution.

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