Best Heart-Healthy Diets
Being overweight is just one factor that puts people at risk for heart disease and stroke. A heart-healthy diet can help you lose weight or lower cholesterol, blood pressure, or triglycerides. According to experts who rated the 29 diets below, the Ornish Diet is the most heart-healthy.
The Biggest Loser diet scored above average in the heart category. It mirrors the medical community’s consensus about what makes a heart-healthy plan. It’s heavy on fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains, and light on saturated fat and added sugar. And exercise is integral to the program, not an add-on.
Weight Watchers is a healthy diet for the heart, according to experts, but it’s not as strong in this area as it is for weight loss. Some evidence suggests it helps lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, potentially warding off heart problems. And weight loss can help prevent heart disease.
Eco-Atkins performed moderately well when experts evaluated it as a diet for the heart. Research supports their view. One study, for example, found that those who followed the diet had a 23 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease than those who opted for a low-carb diet heavy on meat.
The Asian diet received a moderate 3 out of 5 stars. Little research connects it to cardiovascular benefits but on the plus side, the eating pattern is low in saturated fat and high in fiber from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and rice.
The Flat Belly diet is a moderately effective choice for managing or preventing heart disease, our experts concluded. The plan emphasizes monounsaturated fatty acids, which research suggests are good for the heart. Plus, dieters could benefit if Flat Belly delivers on its promise to whittle down belly fat—a risk factor for heart disease.
Experts weren’t impressed by research suggesting that Jenny Craig might improve blood pressure, and deemed it only moderately effective for preventing or reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. However, Jenny has been found to deliver weight loss, and that could lead to improved heart health.
Although it was designed as a heart-healthy diet to reduce levels of fat in the blood, South Beach didn’t make the grade with our experts. But just losing weight helps ward off chronic diseases, including heart problems—so South Beach could have a positive effect.
Assessing it solely as a heart diet, the experts gave this approach largely lackluster scores, indicating the absence of research showing cardiovascular benefits. However, it’s heavy on fruits and veggies and light on saturated fat and salt, which can help keep heart disease at bay.