5 Diets for a Healthier Heart

eggplant parmigiana, a low sodium meal

Take a look at your watch, a clock or a timer. Set it for 44 seconds. Let the time run down. It won't take long. It's less than a minute.

It's barely enough time to think about anything other than, "This seems like a silly thing to do."

But 44 seconds can change your life. That's how often a heart attack occurs in the United States. Heart disease is the leading chronic disease in the United States. But it's largely preventable.

One of the best things you can do to keep your heart healthy is eat more plant-based foods. If you're not used to eating that way, it might seem like a foreign concept. Don't worry. It's really not that complicated.

Plus, these top 5 heart healthy diets can help you change your eating habits to protect your heart and your health.

  • 1. DASH Diet

    DASH stands for Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension. It's a diet designed to help you control your blood pressure and protect your heart. And the menu is pretty easy to follow. There's no gimmicky plan for deprivation, fasting, or cocktails of curious ingredients. Instead, the DASH aims to keep it simple. Eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and some low-fat dairy products.

  • 2. Mediterranean Diet

    It's not a big surprise the Mediterranean Diet made the top 5. During the PREDIMED study that looked at the health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet, researchers actually ended the study early. Why? This lifestyle and way of eating was so effective at reducing heart disease, it didn't make sense to continue and put the control group not on the diet at risk. Researchers found that following the Mediterranean Diet may reduce heart disease risk by 30 percent.

    spinach mushroom lasagna, a low sodium meal

    What do you eat on the Mediterranean Diet? Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meat and poultry, fish, legumes, and ample amounts of olive oil.

  • 3. The Ornish Diet

    Created by lifestyle medicine expert Dr. Dean Ornish, this heart-healthy diet is highly effective, but it's also more restrictive than other heart-healthy diets. You'll have to stick to eating clean, mostly plant-based foods. Limit fats and foods made with refined carbohydrates. Avoid or limit caffeine, meat, and other animal products.

  • 4. TLC Diet

    This is the heart-healthy meal plan created by the National Institutes of Health. TLC stands for Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes. And the goal of this diet is to help lower LDL (or bad) cholesterol levels in just six weeks, which will help you avoid a heart attack or stroke. There's room in this diet for plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, fish, legumes, eggs, and dairy products. And if track your calories, you'll have room for a sweet treat now and then.

  • 5. Flexitarian Diet

    Going vegetarian might sound like a good idea. But if you're not quite ready to give up eating meat, don't. That's the Flexitarian Diet in a nutshell. Have burger or a steak once in a while. And stick to eating a plant-based diet the rest of the time.

Looking for healthy meals ideas low in sodium to protect your heart?

Just check out our selection of Low-Sodium meals, and let us take care of the rest.