Popular Diets and Heart Health

With covid restrictions easing up and gyms starting to reopen, many have started to look into diets and other ways on how to lose a few pounds and stay in shape. But with popular diets having rules on what and what not to eat, it’s important to review what these diets do for your heart health. Today, let’s take a look at some popular diets and the effect they have on our heart health in general.

The Paleo Diet

The idea behind the Paleo diet is to replicate the diets of what our ancestors would have had. The diet puts emphasis on eating meats, vegetables, fruit, seeds, and nuts while staying away from dairy, grains, and processed foods. While this diet may help for weight loss and reducing body mass index, there hasn’t been enough research on the health benefits and downsides. For example, there have been studies showing that it improves cardiovascular health and reduced risk of heart attack while conversely, other studies show weight gain and indicators of increased heart disease risk in the blood. It appears that the jury is out on the verdict for Paleo and if pursuing this diet, take caution in knowing these risks.

The Keto Diet

The Keto diet aims to put the body into a state of ketosis which is when the body uses fat as an energy source rather than the usual sugars. This means that diets high in fat are encouraged, eating foods such as meats, eggs, and dairy while staying away from carbohydrates in all forms including fruits and certain vegetables. Keto has been shown in lowering bad cholesterol while raising levels of good cholesterol and can also lower blood pressure. The potential risk in Keto in terms of heart health is that it depends on which fats are you consuming. Unsaturated fats such as nuts and avocados are the best types of fats to be eating in this diet while avoiding trans fats such as found in processed snacks and baked goods. Unfortunately, Keto also calls for animal products (dairy, meats, etc.) which have saturated fats in them. Both trans fats and saturated fats have risks for cardiovascular disease in the long run which means that it’s important to monitor your intake of these. Ultimately, it’s best to adhere to a Keto diet for a limited amount of time until desired weight levels are reached. Long term continuation of a Keto diet could amount to some potential health problems down the road.

The Plant-Based Diet

Plant-based diets such as vegan and vegetarian diets have been extremely popular in the last several years. Each diet has differences on prohibited foods but generally, the focus of these diets are consuming primarily plants whole staying away from some or all animal products, especially meats. Fruits and vegetables lower blood pressure while also being significantly lower or completely devoid of any fats. Plant-based diets also world very well in eliminating risks for obesity which entails cardiovascular diseases. Soybeans, walnuts, and other plant-based diet friendly foods are also great at reducing heart disease and high blood pressure through high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. With plant based diets, there aren’t many cardiovascular risks but in terms of your health as a whole, it’s important to evaluate your diet and make sure that you are getting all of the types of nutrients you need daily.

The most important thing to understand in diets like these is knowing that there can be risks and knowing how to leverage those risks with the benefits they provide. Before committing to a diet, do some research and understand what could happen down the road in a short term and long term setting.

Forbes Aggabao -Alexander’s Hope Intern


Everyday Health

University of Michigan Health

Hackensack Meridian Health

Everyday Health