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The 10 Best Diets for Better Heart Health, Ranked by Cardiologists

Surprise! The Mediterranean diet falls in the third slot. Learn about the top two diets, plus the other fads that don’t quite make the grade.

Ali Redmond

Ali Redmond

Reviewed by Dietitian Jessica Ball, M.S., RD

The Mediterranean diet is often applauded as one of the best diets for overall health. It is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish and seafood and legumes and light on dairy and meat (and, as a result, low in saturated fat, too, which is a topic still up for debate in the heart-health world). It’s a heart-smart way to eat, and can be beneficial in many other areas of health as well. Mediterranean dieters also tend to have lower risk for certain cancers, cognitive decline, type 2 diabetes and more.

Circling back to heart disease risk, the Mediterranean diet tied for first in the U.S. News and World Report‘s 2022 rankings for the best diets for heart health, but a surprising new victor came out on top in 2023. That 2023 best diet for heart health also earned a gold medal in a new scientific statement from the American Heart Association, published April 27, 2023, in its journal Circulation. The U.S. News and World Report health panel and AHA cardiologists now agree that the DASH diet (which is short for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) appears to be the best diet for heart health.

Read on to learn more about what makes DASH such a heart-smart eating style, then study up on how nine other popular diets ranked in the evidence-based analysis by AHA professionals.

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What This Heart Health Study Found

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DASH Diet, Developed in Part at Pennington Biomedical, Ranks as the American Heart Association’s Top Heart-Healthy Eating Style – L’Observateur

DASH Diet, Developed in Part at Pennington Biomedical, Ranks as the American Heart Association’s Top Heart-Healthy Eating Style

Published 8:30 am Sunday, May 7, 2023

BATON ROUGE – A new American Heart Association scientific statement assessed and scored the heart healthiness of popular dietary patterns, and the DASH Diet – developed in part at Pennington Biomedical Research Center – received a perfect score as the top heart-healthy eating plan.

“Pennington Biomedical has a long history and association with the DASH Diet,” said Dr. John Kirwan, Pennington Biomedical Executive Director. “Pioneering Pennington Biomedical researchers Dr. George Bray, Dr. Donna Ryan and Dr. Catherine Champagne were among the lead developers of the diet, as part of the DASH Diet Collaborative Research Group, along with Brigham and Women’s Hospital; Duke Hypertension Center and the Sarah W. Stedman Nutrition and Metabolism Center; and Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.”

The successful Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH, Diet study results were published in a 1997 New England Journal of Medicine publication, which has been cited by other researchers about 6,000 times since original publication.

“The DASH Diet is a great choice because it is proven to help those with a history of heart disease or people with diabetes, but it is really a diet plan for everyone because it is easy to follow, and it can work for anyone in the family,” said Dr. Champagne professor and registered dietitian nutritionist at Pennington Biomedical.

The statement, published in the association’s flagship, peer-reviewed journal Circulation, rates how well popular dietary patterns align with the American Heart Association’s Dietary Guidance. The guidance includes key features of a dietary pattern to improve cardiometabolic health, which emphasizes limiting unhealthy fats and reducing the consumption of excess carbohydrates. This balance optimizes both cardiovascular and general metabolic health and

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