Best Heart Healthy Diets for 2015

mediterranean dietThe US News & World Report has issued their 2015 ranking of best diets. Not surprisingly, fad diets (think Paleo or any type of cleanse diet) did not fare too well.   Those diets that did fare well focus on healthy eating – plain and simple.

The top five heart healthy diets will help you lose weight and lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and triglycerides. A few of them are even palatable – more on that in a bit.

Here are the five best heart healthy diets:

  1. Ornish Diet
  2. TCL Diet
  3. DASH Diet
  4. Mediterranean
  5. Engine 2 Diet

All of these diets are great and will provide cardiovascular benefits if followed appropriately. However, a couple of them are vegan. I am not ready to become a vegan.

Less Fattening, Tastes Great

Mediterranean Diet – By far the best diet if you actually enjoy eating a variety of foods that taste good! This diet features healthy doses of fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts, legumes, olive oil and herbs and spices. Fish or seafood is your main protein.

You are also allowed, poultry, eggs, cheese and (yogurt in moderation). The best news, sweets and red meat are not off the table. The key to eating the Mediterranean diet is how often and how much of each.

Like the other heart healthy diets, foods from plant sources are prominently featured. Unlike the other diets, you get to indulge in a greater variety of foods. Check out the Oldways site for guidance and recipes.

Balanced and Heart Healthy

Dash Diet – The Dash Diet is not only good for your heart, it is the #1 healthiest diet on the list. The diet was developed by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and is focused on reducing blood pressure.

However, like the Mediterranean, Dash is a lifestyle diet. A guide to getting started can be found here.

TLC Diet – The TLC (Total Lifestyle Change) diet is endorsed by the American Heart Association. This is a low fat diet designed to help you lower your cholesterol. It is also the #2 ranked overall health and # 2 heart health diet. Saturated fat is a no-no and red meat is highly discouraged. However, if you are a high-risk heart patient, this may be the one for you.

Finally, the Vegan’s

Ornish Diet –The claim here is scientific proof to make you “feel better, live longer, lose weight and gain health.” In order to realize all this, you must go vegan. However, the Ornish program is more than just nutrition. The Ornish Spectrum also covers exercise and lifestyle. Check out the full program here.  It’s a committment!

Engine 2 Diet – This is a whole foods diet designed to reverse diseases, including heart disease. A very healthy lifestyle choice with one significant drawback; no animal products whatsoever. I repeat, no animal products whatsoever.

The common element to each of these diets is healthy eating, not weigh loss.   Combining any one of these eating plans with a decent amount of physical activity will greatly improve your overall health.  Which one are you choosing?

Photo credit: Nate Gray: A Culinary (Photo) Journal / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA