With all the conflicting and confusing information about nutrition and heart health, it can seem as if you need a Ph.D. to figure out what to fix for dinner. That’s why Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, a cardiologist and associate professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, set out to create a simple regimen to prevent heart disease, the number-one killer of Americans.
Typically, other heart-healthy diets have been defined by reducing harmful nutrients like saturated fat, dietary cholesterol and salt. Mozaffarian and colleagues Dr. Linda Van Horn of Northwestern University and Dr. Lawrence J. Appel of Johns Hopkins University take a more positive approach. “For most people, getting more of what’s missing will have a larger benefit than limiting certain ingredients,” Mozaffarian says.
To determine what went into this eating strategy, the experts reviewed evidence on the most important dietary factors for reducing the risk of heart damage. The diet breaks down what constitutes “heart-healthy” with the easy-to-read chart shown here. “Following this regime reduces risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes, as well as related risk factors, such as unhealthy cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, inflammation, obesity and more,” Mozaffarian says. It’s as easy as pie—with a whole-grain crust, of course.