Are any fad diets good for heart health?

April 3, 2017 in Healthy Eating, Heart Health, Nutrition Topics in the News

Are any fad diets good for heart health?

It can be tempting to try the latest diet fad like juicing or going gluten-free to lose weight or achieve other health goals. But when it comes to heart health, doctors say sticking with old standbys like fruits, veggies and olive oil remains the best approach. 

To determine which kind of dietary pattern is the most heart healthy, a team of doctors and researchers from the National Jewish Health in Denver, examined results from more than a dozen previously published nutrition studies.

Taken together, the evidence found that the best regimen for heart health includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes.

A number of dietary patterns have clearly been demonstrated to reduce the risk of many chronic diseases, including coronary heart disease. There’s growing consensus that a predominantly plant-based diet that emphasizes green, leafy vegetables, whole grains, legumes and fruit is where the best improvements are seen in heart health.

Based on the evidence, nuts in moderation, extra-virgin olive oil and lean meat can also be part of a heart healthy diet.

Data suggests limiting dietary cholesterol despite recent US guidelines

To help avoid high blood cholesterol, one risk factor for heart disease, the researchers also recommend skipping or limiting eggs and oils like coconut and palm oil. 

Even though U.S. dietary guidelines released last year removed previous recommendations to limit cholesterol, the current research review still suggests eating too many eggs is associated with higher blood cholesterol levels.

The researchers also point out that there isn’t much data to show coconut oil and palm oil are healthy for routine use. Olive oil does have proven benefits, but should be consumed in moderation because it’s high in calories. 

Antioxidant supplements not recommended, juicing maybe

When it comes to antioxidants, there’s no evidence that supplements can help the heart and some evidence that they may have harmful health effects. But the science does support eating whole fruits and vegetables to get these nutrients. 

Juicing, too, may not be as good for the heart as eating whole fruits and vegetables if people end up drinking too many calories, the researchers note. Juices without added sugar may, however, make sense for people who don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables. 

No benefit to dropping gluten unless medical reason to so

Gluten-free diets that avoid ingredients like wheat, barley and rye are necessary for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, but don’t have proven benefits for anyone else, the study concludes. 

Fad diets that call for avoiding gluten without a medical reason to do could appear to help people feel better since people who give up gluten to improve their health also adopt other healthy habits such as increasing exercise, improving sleep and cutting out junk food.

Source: Journal of the American College of Cardiology, online February 27, 2017.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.