Heart disease is the number one killer for both men and women worldwide, according to the World Health Organization, fortunately, there are ways to significantly lower your risk. Regular exercise, not smoking and following a healthy diet can all help protect you from heart disease and a new report reveals which diets are the best for your heart.
Nutrition experts ranked 10 popular diets on which ones meet the American Heart Association’s dietary guidelines for heart health. The DASH diet tops the list, scoring a perfect 100% for meeting all of the AHA goals for heart-healthy eating. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, and high blood pressure is a major contributor to both heart disease and stroke.
The 10 diets were grouped into four tiers based on their scores, which range from 31 to 100:
- Tier 1 - Diets in this category have the highest rating and they’re all low in salt, added sugar, alcohol, tropical oils and processed foods. They’re high in non-starchy veggies, fruits, whole grains and legumes, with protein mostly from plant sources. Diets in tier 1 include the DASH, the Mediterranean-style diet, with an 89% score; the pescatarian diet, which allows dairy, eggs, fish and seafood, but no meat, and scores 92%; and the lacto-ovo vegetarian diet, which includes dairy and eggs and scores 86%.
- Tier 2 - Vegan and low-fat diets are in this group and both meet 78% of AHA dietary guidelines.
- Tier 3 - Diets in this group include very low fat diets with less than 10% fat and low-carb diets, like South Beach and Zone, which score 64%.
- Tier 4 - Paleo and very low-carb/keto diets make up this category and they don’t score as well - less than 55% - with AHA guidelines. They’re at the bottom for heart-healthy eating because of their emphasis on red meat, whole dairy and saturated fats, as well as limited fruit and vegetables.