Article Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed

Ranking the best, worst diets for heart health in 2018


Jan. 4, 2018 Cardiovascular Business

Last year’s fad diets fell to the bottom of the pack in the U.S. News and World Report’s annual heart-healthy “Best Diet” rankings for 2018, the magazine announced this month, while clinician-recommended staples like the DASH and Mediterranean diets topped the list for the eighth year in a row.

The DASH diet, a regimen designed by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to fight and prevent hypertension, tied with the whole grain- and legume-heavy Mediterranean diet as the best overall diet for 2018, according to the report, and also snagged the gold and silver spots for the most heart-healthy regimens of the year, respectively. Of the 40 diets analyzed, popular go-tos like paleo , Atkins, keto and Whole30 diets all lagged in the rankings, pooling in the bottom five.

Unlike some of the more buzzed-about regimens, the DASH diet doesn’t emphasize counting calories, tracking food intake or even shrinking your waistline. According to the U.S. News and World Report, minimizing intake of high-fat and high-salt foods and emphasizing nutrients “you’ve always been told to eat”—such as fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy—is enough to match recommended guidelines.

The Mediterranean diet is similarly loose, because the eating patterns of the countries the diet is based on—Greece, Italy and France, to name a few—all vary geographically. An emphasis is placed on lower consumption of red meat, sugar and saturated fats and higher consumption of produce, nuts, fish and legumes. The regimen tied with the lesser-known Ornish diet, which heralds fish, whole grains, produce and aerobic exercise, for second place on the heart-healthy list.

The difference between these “winners” and the lowest-ranked diets is largely restriction, experts explained in the 2018 report. The Whole30 diet, which rose to fame in 2015 after Melissa and Dallas Hartwig published a book of the same name, strips full food groups from a person’s diet for 30 days. No sugar, legumes, alcohol, grains or dairy are allowed—and cheat days are a strict no-no.

“No independent research. Nonsensical claims. Extreme. Restrictive,” the report read. “The slams against Whole30 came in strong from our panelists, and it tied with the Raw Food Diet as the worst of the worst for healthy eating.”

The Dukan Diet—a weight-loss strategy that’s restrictive and rule-heavy—was ranked 40th on the heart-healthy diet list and called “idiotic” by one panelist.

The 40 diets were ranked by a group of nutrition and dieting experts, according to the report. Panelists with expertise in obesity, food psychology, diabetes and heart disease reviewed diet profiles and rated each regimen based on how easy it is to follow, its ability to produce short-term and long-term weight loss results, its safety and its potential to prevent chronic disease, among other factors.

For the full ranking of heart-healthy diets, click here. Find the best overall diet rankings here.

Read More on Cardiovascular Business

Gene Upshaw Player Assistance Trust Fund

Apply Today

All Resources

Tell Me More

Plant-based diets reduce risk of heart disease, dementia, study finds

What does it mean to go plant based?

Read More

Long-term, heavy coffee consumption and CVD risk

Too much coffee could take a toll on your heart health.

Read More

The Essential Role of Sleep in Immunity

Maximizing sleep for defense against COVID and the best vaccine results

Read More

The connection between post-traumatic stress disorder and nutrition

What does fiber, chocolate and living in poverty have to do with PTSD?

Read More

10 Odd and Fun Activities That Keep Your Brain Healthy

Recent research highlights these surprising ways to protect your brain.

Read More

Personal Boundaries: Privacy and Personal Space in Pandemic

What to do when the pandemic steals control of your privacy and personal space.

Read More

A CEO’s Guide to Planning a Return to the Office

Today’s decisions will set the tone for the future.

Read More

How to Deal with a Shockingly Big Utility Bill

Extreme weather can lead to changes in your utility bills. Be patient and take action.

Read More