Best Ranked Diets for a Healthy Heart of 2019- In a Nutshell
DASH diet? Mediterranean diet? Here’s which is the most likely to keep your heart on track as ranked by the US and World News Report.
Your heart is one of the most working organs as the heart beats about 2.5 million times over the average lifespan.
Moreover, transporting gallons of blood throughout the every body part of the body that are the host of oxygen, hormones and other essential cells.
It also wipes out metabolic wastes and helps in maintaining the homeostasis inside the body.
If the heart fails to perform its task the normal functioning of the body may come to a halt. Consequently, will raise several complications. Performing this non-stop workload, for so long and for so many people your heart deserves a special bonus.
A healthy routine to keep it working without any hiccups. This can be brought down by an unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity, smoking and genetic factors (unlucky genes) and more.
Stand up for your Heart:
Structured cardio workout is essential for optimal heart function. But you should also try structured healthy diets too. As most of the medical experts would recommend a wide range of heart-healthy diets.
But, which is the best ranked diets that suits your heart with hindsight in managing certain biomarkers of heart disease.
Like high cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels, and high blood pressure levels can keep your heart on a healthy track.
Before having a glimpse of the best ranked diets for a healthy heart, let us first look at the reasons of heart disease that tolls one’s health which is at the alarming stage.
According to one of the reports of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention around 610,000 people die due to heart disease in the United States every year.
In addition, making heart disease a number one killing disease that accounts for 1 in every 4 men and women in the United States today.
Heart disease and other lifestyle diseases like diabetes fall under metabolic syndrome or syndrome X. Metabolic syndrome is a combination of symptoms like central obesity, high blood pressure, high insulin level high triglyceride levels and low serum HDL (high-density lipoprotein) levels. Moreover, a risk factor that leads to cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes (1).
A study published in the Journal of Circulation in 2016 reports that over 45% of heart attacks are ‘silent’ that is, symptoms were so abstruse, and the person doesn’t know it occurred.
It makes difficult to go for right treatment on right time than people who have symptoms as said by Dr. Evelina Grayver, director of the coronary unit, North Shore University.
National Heart Lung and Blood Institute outlined the following conditions that are responsible for developing atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). It includes: Sedentary lifestyle, overweight, smoking, unhealthy diet.
US news reporters along with nationally recognized experts in the field of nutrition, diet, obesity, food psychology, diabetes, and heart disease. Described a diet profile after carefully reviewing a number of government reports and medical resources.
In which expert scoring was noted down to rankings from 5 (highest that is extremely effective) to 1(lowest, ineffective). However, excluding the cost of plan and exercise making diet the prime focus.
US News Report ranked the diets in seven categories that include: easy to follow a diet, short-term weight loss, long-term weight loss, nutritional adequacy. In addition, has potential to manage and prevent diabetes and heart disease and safety.
To sum up, in this article we will discuss primarily about the best ranked diets for a healthy heart.
Following are the top 3 best ranked diets based on averaged heart-healthy ratings:
# 1. DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet-
Photo edit credit- Ojasvi Jain
DASH diet fights off high blood pressure because high blood pressure is referred to as silent killer. Because it is without visible symptoms or warning signal until a heart attack occurs.
More to it, millions of people have high blood pressure levels without knowing about it and about 1 in every 3 American adults suffer from it. Fortunately, high blood pressure can be detected easily and prevented with proper diet in proven ways.
Dash Diet is the acronym for ‘Dietary approaches to stop hypertension’ to stop hypertension or high blood pressure as described by NHLBI.
It focuses on foods such as whole grains, lean protein, low-fat dairy, vegetables, and fruits.
To sum up, these food groups are loaded with nutrients like potassium, calcium, protein, and fiber that stabilizes high blood pressure to normal levels.
U.S News findings suggest that DASH diet is balanced that falls in the bracket of 2,300 milligrams to 1,500 milligrams and can be followed long-term.
As a result, ranked the best overall diet that ties with the Mediterranean Diet by U.S News.
Dash Diet restricts high saturated fat (fatty meats), full-fat dairy foods and sugar-sweetened beverages.
Simple Swaps to employ the Dash diet at work:
- Switch white flour for whole wheat flour.
- Substitute salt for herbs and spices.
- Swap chips for almond, pistachios or walnuts.
- Swap fatty meat for lean meat.
- Switch sweetened beverages for sparkling water.
- Swap sugar dipped dessert for vegetable or fruit to every meal.
Lastly, 10-15 minute brisk walk after lunch and dinner is a must. Starting Dash diet is not a magic wand that will put you at absolute change avatar overnight in terms of health.
Instead, small changes can lead to a healthy eating habit that will benefit you in the long run. Surprisingly, you are likely to shed off those extra kilos, if you follow the rules of Dash Diet with a proper diet plan and structured exercise regime.
The better alternatives to cut down sodium in your diet-
- Use of spices as flavor enhancers- The spices from black pepper to chili peppers, fresh herbs from cinnamon to basil, roots (ginger and garlic), citrus (lemon juice) and vinegars add flavor and enhance palatability to your favorite dishes with less sodium.
- Munch on healthy nuts- Go for healthy fat that ranges from nuts, avocados to canola and other oils-add flavor to your food.
- Eat seasonal food- Shop for food ingredients that are peak of season coming from farmers’ market and your local supermarket with maximum zing of natural foods to avoid excess of sodium.
- Ways to enhance flavors- Sauté or sear of foods build flavor. With roasting comes the natural sweetness of most of the vegetables, fish and chicken. If food cooked in microwave or steam add drizzle of flavorful oil and a lemon zest.
- Get the benefit of whole grain food group from better alternative sources- Whole grain bread or white bread, both contain significant amount of sodium, for flavor as well as for proper dough rise. Instead of toast in breakfast go for steel-cut oats, quinoa, farro, couscous or other whole grain with fresh or dried fruits.
Switching to the Dash Diet Programme:
The Dash Diet plan is based on 2000 calories a day. But, it may vary according to individuals daily calorie needs to be included from following food groups.
Dash diet- An easy to follow diet:
Whole grains and products: 7-8 serving daily
Research suggests that whole grains keeps your heart healthy and maintains healthy body weight, so choose nutrient-dense food.
Such as, whole wheat, barley, brown rice, oats, finger millet (Ragi) and shove aside highly processed foods such as white bread, white rice, and noodles.
Vegetables and fruits: 4-5 servings a day
Eat water-rich fruits and vegetables that are full of carbohydrates but low in calories cutting back on fatty foods.
Low fat/ fat-free Milk: 2-3 servings a day
To get the daily requirement of calcium have milk, cheese, and yogurt. On the other hand, for lactose intolerance, a common digestive problem increase consumption of calcium-fortified foods.
Nuts and seeds: 4-5 servings per week
Healthy fats are good for the heart and promote weight loss. Such as monosaturated fats found in olive oil and polyunsaturated fats found in fish, walnuts, canola oil and others.
# 2. Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet is not just a diet plan but a dietary pattern for a healthy lifestyle that includes traditional food and drinks.
Unlike other dietary pyramids, the Mediterranean diet pyramid focus on the frequency of some foods eaten and portion size. It primarily emphasizes olive oil, whole grains, fruits, nuts, vegetables, and fish.
To harness heart-healthy benefits of healthy eating adopt proven strategies that studied the eating habits of Mediterranean people for more than 60 years.
Father of Mediterranean diet, Ancel Keys in 1940 discovered people eating a Mediterranean diet in Northern Europe has a low rate of heart disease and lives longer.
Several studies show that a Mediterranean diet not only has positive benefits on cardiovascular disease.
But, results in a low rate of diabetes, certain cancers, obesity, high blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
The Research supporting Mediterranean diet in heart health and weight loss
A PREDIMED-Plus study in 2018 analyzed data for one year including 626 patients with Type 2 diabetes, different cardiovascular risk factors and other factors.
Such as, fat accumulation and changes in body weight. Patients who were assigned the Mediterranean diet low in calories resulted in 5% weight loss in about 33.7% of those participants.
An improvement was also observed in inflammatory biomarkers and parameters of glucose metabolism (2).
A 2018 study published in the Frontiers in Nutrition Journal, researchers assigned non-human primates with either Mediterranean diet group or Western diet group.
After a period of 30 months found that Mediterranean diet mainly a plant-based resulted in 7% of good bacteria in the gut.
Whereas meat-centric diet has only 0.5% of good bacteria, in spite calories in both the diet groups were same. A healthy microbiome is responsible for a healthy heart (3).
Another study, published in American Heart Association’s Journal Circulation in 2018, assigned 107 healthy but overweight participants between 18-75 years of age with one of the two type of diets randomly: hypo calorie vegetarian diet (eggs and dairy) and hypo calorie Mediterranean diet (poultry, fish, whole grain, fruit, vegetable, beans)
After 3 months, participants switched the diets. Although weight loss didn’t differ greatly between vegetarian and Mediterranean diet groups but found one significant change.
The vegetarian diet was more effective in LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol reduction. Mediterranean diet decreases triglyceride levels, a key factor for increased heart attack and stroke (4).
# 3. Ornish Diet-
The Ornish Diet comprises diet low in fat, animal protein and refined carbohydrate. A diet formulated by Dr. Dean Ornish, a clinical professor of medicine at University of California, San Francisco, founder (PMRI).
Ornish diet focuses on exercise from aerobic activities to resistance training, relationships and stress management.
From breathing exercises to yoga and in terms of nutrition categorize food from most helpful (group 1) to least (group 2) healthful.
On selecting the type regimen from above-mentioned combinations is to practice them in accordance with your timing. Most importantly, each day acts as a catalyst to maintain your optimal health in the long-term.
Ornish diet is a scientifically proven program on the basis of controlled randomized trials to lower high blood pressure.
Similarly, maintain healthy glucose levels, weight reduction, and prevention of cancer and heart disease without any drugs or surgery.
The Ornish Diet Program: This type of diet can be effectively followed in the following way:
Incorporate whole grains, legumes and fruit and vegetables. Limit animal foods, processed foods, and alcohol. There is no off-limit dietary restriction on any foods. But, one should follow the-spectrum-reversing-heart-disease program.
Have a look at the research studies supporting the beneficial effects of following the Ornish diet:
- In a 2007 study, effects of changes in health behaviors (unsaturated dietary fat intake, physical activity and stress management) to the coronary and psychosocial risk factors were analyzed in 869 non-smoking CHD patients. After 3 months of study, a significant reduction in risk factors of coronary disease was noticed (5).
- In a 2007 study published in European Journal of Heart Failure, after 3 months due to intensive lifestyle changes. A significant improvement observed in lifestyle behavior, blood pressure, resting heart rate, exercise capability, total and LDL cholesterol in LVEF (<=40%) patients that can be maintained for 12 months (6).
- A study published Journal of the American Dietetic Association in 2009, assigned participants with three types of diets. Namely, Atkin diet, Ornish diet, and South beach diet. They conducted a randomized and crossover study with 4-week isocaloric phase followed by 4-week washout phase. A significant reduction in LDL cholesterol was observed when followed the Ornish diet (7).