• Home
  • Blog
  • Health News

AHA Ranks Popular Diets for Heart Health: DASH and Mediterranean Come Out on Top, While Low-Carb and Keto Diets Are at the Bottom

The American Heart Association (AHA) has released a report analyzing and ranking 10 popular dietary patterns based on their heart health benefits.[0] The report aims to provide clarity amidst the proliferation of different popular dietary patterns and the misinformation about them on social media.[1] The AHA ranked the diets based on how well they align with AHA goals for heart-healthy eating. The winner was the DASH diet, which was 100% aligned with AHA goals for heart-healthy eating.[2] Developed by researchers at the National Institutes of Health in the 1990s, the DASH diet is widely endorsed by doctors, dietitians, and other nutrition experts.[2] The Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes seafood, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains, was also highly ranked.[3] Research has linked the Mediterranean diet to reduced risk for diabetes, high cholesterol, dementia, memory loss, depression, and breast cancer, as well as weight loss, stronger bones, a healthier heart, and longer life.[3]

On the other hand, eating patterns that are very low in carbs and follow a keto diet were ranked poorly for promoting heart health. This is due to their emphasis on consuming red meat and saturated fats while restricting the intake of fruits and vegetables.[4] The report did not review commercial dietary programs, such as Noom or Weight Watchers; diets designed to be followed for less than 12 weeks; dietary practices such as intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating; or diets designed to manage non-cardiovascular conditions (such as gastrointestinal conditions and food allergies or intolerances).[5]

The AHA stresses the importance of increasing fruits and vegetables, choosing healthy sources of protein, and minimizing processed foods to lower the risk of heart disease.[6] Nutritionists and dietitians recommend a diet high in whole grains, non-starchy vegetables, and lean meat and fish while avoiding saturated fats, refined sugars, and processed foods. The report cautions that low-carb diets often lack fiber, a nutrient associated with myriad health benefits like lower risk of disease, healthy blood sugar, and reduced cholesterol. There are also concerns that low-fat diets treat all fats equally, whereas the AHA guidance calls for replacing saturated fats with healthier fats.[7] People eating low-fat diets may also overconsume less healthy sources of carbohydrates, such as added sugars and refined grains.

The report aims to serve as a tool for clinicians and the public to understand which diets promote good cardiometabolic health.[7] However, Christopher D. Gardner, the chair of the writing committee for the new scientific statement and the Rehnborg Farquhar Professor of Medicine at Stanford University in Stanford, California, notes that people may hear conflicting information from different studies of the same diet.[8] He highlights that people often don't fully understand popular eating patterns and aren't following them as intended, which makes it challenging to determine the effect of the “diet as intended” and distinguish that from the “diet as followed.”[5] Gardner concludes that a diet that's effective at helping an individual maintain weight loss goals, from a practical perspective, needs to be sustainable.[5]

0. “Heart health: 10 popular diets ranked” Medical News Today, 27 Apr. 2023, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/10-popular-diets-ranked-for-heart-health-which-ones-are-the-best-emb

1. “The best (and worst) diets for heart health, according to the American Heart Association” CBS News, 27 Apr. 2023, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/heart-healthy-diets-mediterranean-keto-paleo-american-heart-association/

2. “Popular keto and paleo diets aren't helping your heart, report says” The Washington Post, 27 Apr. 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/wellness/2023/04/27/keto-paleo-diet-heart-health/

3. “Top diets that reduce your risk of heart diseases” Geo News, 27 Apr. 2023, https://www.geo.tv/latest/484138-top-diets-that-reduce-your-risk-of-heart-diseases

4. “DASH diet named the best for heart health” WYMT, 27 Apr. 2023, https://www.wymt.com/2023/04/27/dash-diet-named-best-heart-health/

5. “These celebrity diets are the worst for your heart” FOX Bangor/ABC 7 News and Stories, 27 Apr. 2023, https://www.foxbangor.com/news/national/entertainment/these-celebrity-diets-are-the-worst-for-your-heart/article_8db4bc50-bda7-52b4-a1dc-d9448fa01931.html

6. “We Asked the Experts: How Does a Vegan Diet Support Heart Health?” VegNews, 21 Apr. 2023, https://vegnews.com/vegan-health-wellness/heart-health-tips-medical-experts

7. “Here's how 10 popular diets scored for heart health” American Heart Association News, 27 Apr. 2023, https://www.heart.org/en/news/2023/04/27/heres-how-10-popular-diets-scored-for-heart-health

8. “10 popular diets scored for heart-healthy elements; some need improvement” American Heart Association, 27 Apr. 2023, https://newsroom.heart.org/news/10-popular-diets-scored-for-heart-healthy-elements-some-need-improvement

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 0 comments