AHA: How 10 popular diets score on heart-healthy elements

The American Heart Association reviewed and scored 10 of the most popular diets for heart-healthy elements.

The scientific statement, published in Circulation, is the first to analyze how closely popular dietary patterns adhere to heart-healthy practices, according to an April 27 AHA news release. The guidance also focused on being adaptable to individual budgets and preferences.

The committee reviewed the defining features of several dietary patterns that are meant to be followed long term. Dietary patterns were grouped by similarity in key characteristics, resulting in 10 categories: DASH-style, Mediterranean-style, pescatarian, vegetarian/ovo/lacto, vegan, low-fat, very low fat, low-carbohydrate, paleolithic, very low-carbohydrate or keto.

Each diet was evaluated against nine of the 10 features of AHA's heart-healthy eating pattern guidance. The only factor not used was "eating to achieve a proper energy balance to maintain a healthy weight" because it is influenced by factors other than dietary choices, according to the release. Defining features of each diet was given points based on how well they aligned with the AHA guidance. Points were given as 1 point for fully meeting, .75 for mostly meeting, .5 for partially meeting and 0 for not meeting the guidance. The totaled scores were adjusted to a rating between 0 and 100, with 100 indicating the closest adherence to dietary guidance.

Scored higher than 85:

  1. DASH-style (perfect score)
  2. Mediterranean-style
  3. Pescatarian
  4. Vegetarian/Ovo/Lacto

Scored between 75-84:

  1. Vegan
  2. Low-fat

Scored 55-74:

  1. Very low-fat
  2. Low-carbohydrate

Scored less than 55:

  1. Paleolithic
  2. Very low-carbohydrate/Keto

Read the full report here.

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