Even though weight loss comes down to a simple formula — eat fewer calories than you burn — dieters should exercise caution when choosing how to eat. Not all diets are created equal when it comes to protecting or improving heart health.
According to the Harvard Heart Letter, all older adults should pay attention to their heart health, and for people who want to lose weight, low-carb diets may not be the best choice. Dieters who stick to a ketogenic or Atkins-style diet tend to eat lots of red meat and high-fat, high-salt processed meats, like bacon — not exactly heart-healthy choices.
But low-carbohydrate diets aren’t completely off-limits — for dieters who prefer to avoid carbohydrates, doctors recommend choosing unprocessed or minimally processed foods and high-quality fats, such as those found in nuts.
But in general, experts caution, dieters should think twice about any diet that restricts a specific category of food, such as carbohydrates or fats, because they are less sustainable for people who want to lose weight and keep it off.
Instead of restrictive diets that eliminate entire food groups, experts urge dieters to eat a variety of heart-healthy foods. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), a variety of whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, skinless poultry and fish, nuts and legumes and non-tropical vegetable oils (such as olive oil) are all good choices for heart health. In addition, the AHA recommends that dieters limit saturated fats (such as butter), trans fats, sodium, red meat, sweets and sugary drinks.