Eat Your Way to Heart Health

US News Ranks Heart-Healthy Diets at the Top

Plans for dieting frequently top the list of New Year’s resolutions. Recently, U.S. News & World Report ranked the top diets of 2012, which could make planning meals and managing heart health a bit easier. 

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Apple-slicesBest overall diet: DASH diet

The DASH diet topped the list for 2012, with the diet showing as heart healthy and nutritionally sound. The diet focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins, while cutting back on heavy calorie foods. It also limits salt. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet aims to prevent and lower high blood pressure

“I encourage patients with hypertension or pre-hypertension to follow the DASH diet, but it is excellent for any adult to follow in order to keep within the recommended sodium limit of 2,300 milligrams or less per day and prevent hypertension,” says Cleveland Clinic Preventive Cardiology dietitian Kate Patton, MEd, RD, CSSD, LD.

hand-holding-wheatSecond overall best: TLC diet

The TLC diet was ranked second overall, as well as second in Best Heart-Health Diets. The TLC diet is recommended by the American Heart Association and aims to reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol by cutting back on saturated fat, limiting daily dietary cholesterol intake and getting more fiber.

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“I completely agree that the DASH diet and TLC diet are two excellent diets. I think they are great because they are not really a ‘typical’ diet, yet describe how to follow a healthy, balanced diet,” Patton says. The TLC diet is also appropriate to follow for anyone with high cholesterol, but it would not hurt to follow it to prevent hyperlipidemia – or high blood cholesterol levels.

Vegetables for lowering cholesterolBest diet for heart health: Ornish diet 

The TLC diet came in second to the Ornish diet for Best Heart-Healthy Diets. While the Ornish diet is fairly restrictive, it can be used for a multitude of benefits in addition to preventing and reversing heart disease such as losing weight, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, and preventing and treating prostate or breast cancer

The guidelines for this diet state no more than 10 percent of calories from fat, which is found naturally in foods, but not from added fats; no more than 10 milligrams cholesterol; no animal products-meat, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese, except for two servings fat free dairy and egg whites; no more than 2 tablespoons (24 grams) of added sugar; no caffeine, except for green tea. If you are interested in following a vegetarian diet to improve your heart health, the Ornish could be a great diet for you. 

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man and woman cooking with food

Honorable mention: Mediterranean diet

Though the Mediterranean diet came in third, it ranked with four out of five stars for heart health and Patton says it’s a good well-balanced diet. “It encourages more fish and legumes, which most Americans do not eat as often as red meat and poultry,” Patton says. Replacing fish and legumes for red meat and poultry reduces intake of saturated fat and increases intake of heart healthy omega-3 fats and cholesterol lowering soluble fiber. 

No diet is a one-size fits all approach. Cleveland Clinic dietitians will work with each patient to find a diet that safely fits their lifestyle and health goals.

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