The Best Diet for Heart Health
The Mediterranean Diet
There is no single Mediterranean diet (MD) despite the name. It is a general term that refers to an eating plan that focuses on prepared foods common to Mediterranean countries, such as Greece, Crete, Italy, and Crete. Research links the MD to better cardiovascular health. A study of approximately 26,000 women found that the MD diet reduced the risk of developing heart disease by 25%.
Mediterranean eating habits are based on grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes (beans, lentils, etc.) and very few processed foods. The MD does not advocate a low-fat diet. Olive oil is the main source of added fat. The Mediterranean-style diet minimizes animal food intake, but it does include moderate amounts of eggs and poultry. Red meats such as lamb and beef are very rare, as well as processed meats. The MD includes red wine, but only in small quantities and meals. However, you don’t need to drink wine in order to follow the MD.
The DASH Diet
DASH stands for Dietary Approaches To Stop Hypertension (higher blood pressure). DASH is a diet that can help lower or prevent hypertension. It may be possible to reduce blood pressure within a week by following the instructions exactly. The DASHeating program also lowers low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. This type of cholesterol can block your arteries and cause a stroke or heart attack.
DASH diet focuses on foods high in potassium, calcium, and magnesium. This includes grains, fruits and vegetables, legumes and nuts, seeds, and dairy products. This diet restricts foods high in sodium, saturated fat, and added sweeteners. The DASH diet, like the MD, is rich in plant foods but also allows for more fat-free and low-fat dairy products, lean poultry, fish, and meat.
What Diet is Best for Heart Health?
Both the MD and DASH diet plan promotes heart health. It may be down to your personal health history and lifestyle that you choose one or the other.