Anyone who has the smallest heart issues in the family, knows that a food can be a big concern in life. This article has scoured through the best doctor approved – best heart healthy diets and listed the top three of the smartest for you here. Let us have a look at why they work by better than even the smartest of the diets and what can you expect when following them.
1. The South beach diet
The South beach diet was developed by cardiologist Arthur Agatston in Miami, Florida. Agatston worked out diet for his own patients . this is one of the most healthy diet for a heart. The reason it works is because it encourages a Lifestyle change and urges you to make informed choices about what is good and what is bad on Carbohydrate and fat front. The best part is that it helps you to drop kilos and feel lighter.
The Agatston Mantra is set in three phases :
The first phase is designed to eliminating sugar and refined carbs. Refined Carbs and processed have lot of salt and sugar and are loaded with fewer nutrients such as B vitamins and fibres. Refined carbs restrict the blood sugar balance and bring on cravings. So put away the wheat flour to manage insulin and promote weight loss. Even carbs from food and some vegetables such as potatoes ,carrots and green peas are excluded. Only allowing high protein, low fat food like lean meats , fish, low-fat cheese, eggs, nuts , seeds and olive oil are encouraged with veggies like spinach Broccoli and cabbage.
It promotes long-term steady weight loss. You stay in this phase till you reach the target weight. Fruits, dairy and complex carbs from wholegrains are introduced slowly. Refined carbs or high glycemic foods continue to be banned .Snacks like popcorn, baked tortilla chips and some approved deserts are allowed.
This is the maintain for life phase to make healthy eating a habit. Go for nutrient dense, fibre rich fruits, vegetables ,whole grains, legumes, lean protein and low fat dairy products Say Yes to polyunsaturated and mono unsaturated good fats from nuts, Omega 3 rich fish and extra virgin olive oil. Leave room for an occasional indulgence.
Why it works?
- It takes a Holistic view of making good food habits rather than just eating this or dropping that
- It emphasizes on satisfying, nutritious food rather than counting calories
- Allows approved desserts for those with the sweet truth
- Its a heart friendly and a low cholesterol diet
The Flip Side of this healthy heart diet
- The first phase of Carbohydrates restriction may make you feel deprived and you may miss out on a nutrient like the B vitamins and antioxidants during this time
- You may lose a lot of weight during the first two weeks which is not optimally recommended
2. Dr Ornish Heart Healthy Program
Dr Dean Ornish, President and founder of the preventive medicine Research Institute ,US, conducted various studies to prove that changes in diet and Lifestyle can prevent and often reverse the progression of heart disease.
This is a vegetarian ,low fat diet, high fiber diet designed to improve heart health by decreasing blood pressure and cholesterol. There are two subgroups targeted since some people need to make bigger changes than the others. The group that you pick will depend on the requirement of your heart . The broad guidelines for groups are the same: Eat more Complex carbs from fruits ,vegetable, grains and Beans. It advises you to cut back on high fat and high animal proteins like red meat, bacon and pork, high fat dairy with saturated fat content and other simple carbs like sugar and white flour. Dr Ornish frowns at caffeinated beverages and alcohol since they initiate the stress response which puts pressure on the heart. The details of this diet for a healthy heart are described here..
The Reversal Diet
This is for the people diagnosed with heart disease or high cholesterol. Besides, general guidelines, it reduces the consumption of even plant-based foods high in fat including all oils, nuts and avocados. This keeps fat down to approximately 10% of the diet. You are allowed moderate amounts of non fat dairy and egg whites .
The Prevention Diet
If you are at risk, but not actually suffering from heart condition, you would do well to follow this. This cuts heart and cholesterol risk and promotes overall health. It focuses on lower fat and low cholesterol foods. It is customized according to your cholesterol profile, genetic disposition ,weight, age and any other health risks and goals.
Why it works?
- It does not restrict calories , the fat restrictions make you lose weight
- It stresses on Lifestyle changes such as stress management, quitting smoking and moderate exercise to optimize cardiovascular function
The Flip Side
- This may be hard for those who enjoy meat and fish
- It lacks essential fatty acids from fish nuts and seeds and is low on Omega 3
- This diet lacks several nutrients such as vitamin B12, Calcium and Iron. The advice is to supplement these with pills which is not the same as Fresh Food.
3. The Pritikin Eating Plan
Developed by American nutritionist ,Nathan Pritikin, this diet is said to be the friendliest to the heart. Based on more than 110 studies, it has been proven that the Pritikin eating plan decreases risk factors for heart disease, prevents and controls type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and several cancers. It also promotes healthy long-term weight loss . This diet emphasizes on consuming minimum processed foods.
The main principles and the best foods for healthy heart and reversing diabetes are-
Eat lots of Complex carbs -at least five serving - with 4 servings of fruits and five of vegetables, two serving of the calcium rich foods (such as fat free Dairy items like yogurt, cheese, soya milk and tofu), all herbs( coriander , Parsley, mint) for their phytonutrient power and their ability to flavour your food so you cut back on salt.
Eat in moderation- Lean white meat, fish ,shellfish ,dry fruits and artificial sweeteners, herbal teas caffeine drinks ,nuts and seeds . This will help you avoid empty calories.
Eat with caution - Refined white grains, salts, sweeteners such as fruit juice ,fructose syrup, barley syrup, corn syrup, and alcohol so that you can check your calorie intake.
Avoid -Butter , margarine hydrogenated fats, chocolate ,whole or low-fat dairy and coconut. To keep cholesterol and calories in check pass up pastries, rich dessert ,salty snacks, egg yolks and fried foods . Steer clear of fatty processed and organ meats.
Why it works?
- Based on a General healthy eating plan of low fat and high fibre
- You can eat when you want to and some animal protein is also allowed
- The wide variety of food provides nutrients, lacking in plant foods
- Encompasses and exercise routine based on cardiovascular workouts, strength training and stretching.
The Flip Side
- Does not emphasize the importance of using oily fish over lean poultry
- Lacks fat soluble vitamins like A,D,E and K ,present in fatty foods, because of the strict fat restriction
- There seems to be no room for occassional treats which can be a part of healthy, balanced meal .This can make the diet dreary.
Some of the basic principles to keep in mind
- Work towards an ideal body weight ,keep a body mass index below 25.
- Watch your diet and exercise regularly
- Keep your diet low in saturated fat and avoid trans fats
- Step-up consumption of Omega 3 .Vegetarians get this from flaxseed ,mustard oil,Soya
- Cut out simple carbohydrates.Restrict refined flour preparations like biscuits and breads, cakes pastries.
- Cut down on non refined sugar
- Go heavy on dietary fiber. Increase intake of vegetables and fruits.
- Limit salt to about 4 to 5 grams per day.
- Eat 20- 40 gram unsalted roasted nuts or fruit seeds like walnut and Almonds everyday to promote healthy lipid levels.
- Eat home cooked food. Fresh Food is rich in nutrients, antioxidants, vitamins and micronutrients. Preserved and packaged foods are high on salt.
Is keto Diet friendly for heart patients?
As you an see , the importance of fats and cholesterol in maintaining a good healthy heart diet, it is obvious that the keto diet is not recommended in such cases. Keto diet emphasizes on almost 75% fat , which can increase the cholesterol levels.