I am currently reading a book about heart-healthy diets, and the week prior, I finished a book giving nearly the opposite advice. With so much research and diet experts, it’s normal to have too many heart-healthy diet options.
I don’t believe that there is one correct diet option out there. That’s the wrong way to approach this health topic.
Heart Healthy Diet Options
Low-fat was the craze during all of my medical training from the late 90s into the early 2000s.
There is the vegan diet and whole plant-based diet, and the Mediterranean diet. And oil-free versions of each of these.
Focusing on how these diets are different is counterproductive. There is more value in teasing out what they have in common.
Even more critical, which individuals benefit from which diets? An individualized approach is often superior to population-based medicine.
Even some whole grains and organic fruit might tip them over if I have a highly insulin-resistant patient.
A ketogenic diet is the right solution for these individuals, perhaps for a short period of time. Eventually, like all of us, a person has to learn to eat intuitively instead of following a diet.
Some can stick to a particular diet. But inherently, diets have little wiggle room, which leads to a high dropout rate. And their long-term results tend to drop off after the first few years.
A patient with very active Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) will not do well with a high-fiber diet. And the patient with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) won’t help their kidneys with a high-protein diet.
Food & Heart Health
I don’t focus on just the heart in my heart health coaching practice. If I achieve optimal cardiovascular health through a heart-healthy diet option but ignore the liver or brain, I will have failed the individual.
A diet ideal for the cardiovascular system will minimize insulin resistance, offer the right amount of dietary fats, and decrease inflammation.
Controlling inflammation might be more critical depending on where you are on your heart health journey. Later in your journey, decreasing peripheral resistance may be more critical.
What The Diets Have in Common
Heart-healthy diet options often have sustainability and high nutrient content in common.
Such diets offer the right macros to the individual without exacerbating any particular disease condition.
Few of these diets will provide excess calories, and the food sources are among the highest quality. Even if you are averse to the term “organic,” the foods in these diets are often grown in a way that requires fewer antibiotics and pesticides.
These diets have hardly any processed oils, fats, sugars, or proteins. Some will recommend adding coconut oil, olive oil, or butter, but that’s generally as processed as it gets.