- The American Heart Association (AHA) recently evaluated several popular diets and found that a few align with their previously outlined criteria for heart healthy diets, including: the DASH diet, Mediterranean diet, Pescatarian diet, and Vegetarian diet.
- The AHA also recommends that eggs can be consumed as part of heart healthy diet patterns in order to meet essential nutrient needs.
- More restrictive diets, such as very low-fat diet, low-carb diet, paleo diet and keto diet, were found to not align with the AHA’s heart healthy diet guidance, since these diets often restrict the consumption of nutrient-rich foods that are critical for heart health and overall health.
While nutrient needs can be met by consuming various dietary patterns that align with personal, cultural, and budgetary preferences, there is a proliferation of nutrition misinformation that can make healthy eating confusing. Guidance from credible organizations, such as the American Heart Association (AHA), can help to clear up nutrition misinformation and put it into perspective. Recently, the American Heart Association (AHA) released a Scientific Statement evaluating current popular dietary patterns and found that several patterns strongly aligned with heart healthy diets1. Of importance, the AHA also recommends that eggs can be consumed as part of healthy dietary patterns in order to meet essential nutrient needs2.
In their new Scientific Statement, the AHA evaluated popular dietary patterns with previously outlined criteria for heart-healthy diets3. Multiple dietary patterns are well aligned with AHA Dietary Guidance, including Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), Mediterranean, pescetarian, and vegetarian (ovo, lacto, ovo/lacto). These diets are rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and plant-protein sources. The next tier of dietary patterns includes vegan and low-fat diets, which scored lower in AHA’s evaluation because there is a risk of nutrient inadequacy (e.g., vitamin B12) and potentially higher consumption of certain packaged foods with little nutritional value. The lowest tier dietary patterns, including very low-fat, low-carbohydrate, paleo, and ketogenic diets, do not align with AHA Dietary Guidance. These dietary patterns restrict the consumption of nutrient-rich foods that are critical for heart and overall health. AHA indicates there are healthier ways to follow all of the popular dietary patterns, and outlines opportunities to address potential challenges.
Egg-specific research also supports that eggs consumed within healthy dietary patterns is beneficial for populations who are at risk for cardiovascular disease, for example, people who have elevated blood glucose or diabetes. A new study from Boston University found that dietary patterns that included eggs and higher amounts of fiber, fish and whole grains resulted in a 26-29% reduction in the risk of impaired fasting blood glucose or type 2 diabetes4. Another study from the University of Connecticut studied people with Metabolic Syndrome and found that “…consuming whole eggs in combination with a plant-based diet offers a healthier dietary pattern when compared to eggs substitutes by favorably affecting plasma lipids and antioxidant carotenoids, as well as choline, thereby reducing disease risk5.”
While the data continue to support a focus on the overall diet in order to reduce the risk of chronic disease1,6, it is important that nutrient needs are met. For example, it is difficult to reach the adequate intake for choline without consuming eggs or taking a dietary supplement7. As the AHA called out in the new Scientific Statement, there are challenges even with dietary patterns that align with heart-healthy recommendations and health professionals play a key role in guiding consumers toward healthier, more balanced diets adequate in all essential nutrients. As a nutrient-dense food with high-quality protein, eggs are an excellent addition to the healthy dietary patterns recommended within the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the AHA.