The No. 1 diet for heart health is the DASH eating plan—here’s how it works


What you eat plays a major role in maintaining heart health, but with so many buzzy diets out there, it can be hard to determine how to best support one of the most important organs in our body.

Thankfully, the American Heart Association evaluated the 10 most popular diets and ranked them based on which eating patterns “promote heart health much better than others.”

Each of the diets were graded on a scale of 1 to 100, based on factors like:

  • Wide range of fruits and vegetables
  • Mostly whole grains over refined grains
  • Healthy protein sources
  • Minimally processed foods versus ultra-processed foods
  • Low levels of added sugars and salt

No. 1 best diet for heart-health: DASH eating plan

When the scores were tallied up, there was only one diet that received a perfect score: the DASH eating plan. DASH stands for “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.”

“This eating pattern is low in salt, added sugar, tropical oil, alcohol and processed foods and high in non-starchy vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes,” AHA said in their statement.

These are the do’s and don’ts of the DASH eating plan, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute within the NIH.

Eat these foods often

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Beans
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Vegetable oils
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy

Limit consumption, or abstain from these foods

  • Fatty meats like bacon and sausage
  • Sugary, sweetened drinks
  • Full-fat dairy
  • Sodium
  • Sweets

Remember to eat foods that are low in sodium and saturated and trans fats, the NIH states. And up your intake of foods that are high in fiber, protein, potassium, calcium and magnesium.

Here’s how 10 popular diets scored for heart health

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