How Do the Most Popular Diets Rank for Heart Health?

by Caitlin H,

Sep 25, 2023


Heart Healthy Diets

Skim any social media feed related to weight loss, and there’s a good chance you’ll see it chock full of everyone from fitness influencers to celebrities touting a diet that helped them shed pounds in record time. Here’s the thing: Many of those diets — such as very-low-fat and very-low-carb — may indeed help you lose weight, but that doesn’t mean they’re good for you.

That’s according to a recent report from the American Heart Association (AHA) and published in Circulation. The comprehensive report ranked the most popular diets in relation to their heart healthiness based on the AHA’s recommendations, which involve eating:

  • Lots of fruits and veggies
  • Whole grains
  • Lean, unprocessed protein found in nuts, fish, seafood and nonfat dairy
  • Olive and vegetable oil

And limiting your consumption of:

  • Processed foods
  • Foods with added sugars
  • Alcohol

The report ranked the most popular diets in four tiers based on how heart-healthy they are. Here’s a deeper look:

The Most Heart-Healthy Diets – Tiers 1 and 2

The Mediterranean and DASH diets are among the highest-ranking diets in the report. Both focus on eating whole grains, vegetables, lean protein, beans, legumes and low-fat dairy.

Developed by nutritionists and chefs, Diet-to-Go’s Mediterranean meal plan delivers a delicious menu rich in whole, heart-healthy foods right to your door. It helps you adopt the Mediterranean culture around food, too, which aims for you to focus on enjoying your food without worrying about dieting. That means you’ll get mouth-watering meals like Cinnamon Walnut Oatmeal for breakfast, Turkey Meatloaf for lunch, and Baked Salmon with Pineapple Salsa for dinner — no cooking involved!

Also high on the list are the pescetarian and vegetarian diets. Pescetarian diets allow you to eat fish but not meat, while vegetarian diets are plant-based.

Diet-to-Go’s Vegetarian meal plan is adapted from our No. 1-rated Balance Menu, delivering you calorie-controlled, nutritional meals controlled for sodium, carbs, fat, and cholesterol. Our vegetarian plan includes breakfasts like Egg Pot Pie and Cherry Almond Bars, lunches like Spanish Stuffed Peppers and Mushroom Ravioli, and Dinners like Black Bean Chili and Asian Soy. We’ve been helping people lose weight and eat healthy with our Vegetarian Menu for over 30 years!*

The Least Heart-Healthy Diets – Tiers 3 and 4

Ketogenic and paleo diets ranked among the worst for heart health in the report. The ketogenic diet generally restricts you to about 30 net carbs per day, while the paleo diet includes fish, eggs, nuts and seeds, and some fruits and vegetables — the food available to humans of the Paleolithic era.

The report highlighted how restricting carbs to less than 10% of daily calories cuts out heart-healthy foods like many fruits and vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, which have nutritional qualities essential to a balanced diet.

The report noted that these diets offer benefits like cutting out refined grains and added sugar and encouraging eating veggies like asparagus, cauliflower, and broccoli. However, their focus on fatty meats like bacon and steak can lead to an increase in LDL cholesterol, the so-called “bad” cholesterol that can increase the risk of heart disease.

Bottom Line

Studies show that the best, healthiest diet is the one you can stick with long-term. At Diet-to-Go, we believe in a common-sense approach to healthy eating that allows you to enjoy the foods you love in smaller quantities.

Our most popular Balance Menu has been helping people achieve their goals for over 30 years. Our chefs and nutritionists designed a restaurant-quality, mouth-watering meal plan to control for calories and portion size with heart-healthy foods that include lean protein and lots of fruits and veggies.



Author: Caitlin H
Diet-to-Go Community Manager

Caitlin is the Diet-to-Go community manager and an avid runner. She is passionate about engaging with others online and maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle. She believes moderation is key, and people will have the most weight loss success if they engage in common-sense healthy eating and fitness.


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