American Heart Association Ranks 10 Popular Diets – DASH Diet Comes Out on Top with 100% Score
The American Heart Association has released a statement ranking 10 popular diets based on their adherence to heart-health guidance. The report evaluated the diets on their ability to promote cardiometabolic health, with the DASH diet coming out on top with a score of 100%. Developed by the National Institutes of Health, the DASH diet emphasizes whole grains, vegetables, low-fat dairy, and healthy sources of protein, and is widely endorsed by doctors, dietitians, and nutrition experts. The Mediterranean diet, which also emphasizes whole grains, vegetables, and healthy fats, was also highly ranked. Vegetarian and pescatarian diets, which promote fish and plant-based protein sources, were also highlighted for their heart benefits.
However, the report also warned against the keto and paleo diets, which were found to be detrimental to heart health due to reduced fiber intake and a lack of limits on consuming saturated fats. These diets were criticized for shunning food groups the AHA recommends and promoting foods that the AHA discourages in high amounts. The report also noted that extreme dieting fads are highly restrictive and difficult for most people to stick with long-term, and that a sustainable diet is necessary for effective weight loss and maintenance.
The report's release was prompted by the proliferation of different, popular dietary patterns and the amount of misinformation about them on social media. Christopher D. Gardner, Ph.D., FAHA, chair of the writing committee and the Rehnborg Farquhar Professor of Medicine at Stanford University, noted that the public and even many health care professionals may feel confused about heart-healthy eating, and may not have the time or training to evaluate different diets. The AHA's guidance suggests increasing fruits and vegetables, choosing healthy sources of protein, and minimizing processed foods to reduce the risk of heart disease.
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