By Dr. Jonathan Dubin MD, FACC, FASE, Cardiology
Is there a diet that is good for my heart that can help me lose weight as well? As a cardiologist, I get asked this question all the time. Heart disease is the #1 cause of death in the United States. Also, more than one third of the American adults are obese or overweight. There are hundreds of diets on the market to choose from. Out of all these diets, there are 2 diets that I recommend to my patients for heart health and weight loss. I recommend these diets for 2 reasons. First of all, they have been shown to be effective in clinical research studies. Secondly, I have tried these diets myself and have personally found them to be safe, easy to understand, and effective. About 15 years ago, I was 40 pounds overweight and my blood pressure was unacceptably high. My doctor “threatened” to put me on medication for my blood pressure. Besides occasional antibiotics, I had never taken medication on a regular basis. Although I prescribe medication to my patients every day, I found the idea of taking medication myself to be not very appealing. (I know what you’re thinking, we doctors can dish it out but we can’t take it). I searched the medical literature for diets that would improve my blood pressure, promote weight loss, and were heart healthy. The diets I discovered in my research are: “The DASH diet” and “The 8 Hour diet”.
The DASH diet
DASH stands for “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension”. This diet focuses on increasing intake of foods rich in nutrients that have be shown to lower blood pressure such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, protein, and fiber. Foods recommended in the DASH diet include fruits, vegetables, whole grain products, fish, poultry, and nuts. The diet is low in salt and contains approximately 2000 calories a day which is ideal for weight loss. More information about the DASH diet can be found at the National Heart, Lung, Blood Institute website at http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/resources/heart/hbp-dash-index or by searching “DASH diet” on any search engine.
The 8 hour diet
The 8 hour diet was primarily designed for weight loss however, it is heart healthy as well. With this diet, the dieter picks a consecutive 8 hour period in which to eat. The remaining 16 hours is a fasting period. For example you can choose to eat between 8 AM and 4 PM, having breakfast and a late lunch. Or you can eat between 12 noon and 8 PM having lunch and dinner. You can pick any 8 hour period you want but the 8 hours have to be consecutive and uninterrupted. The 16 hour fasting period allows the body more time to eliminate the toxic waste products generated during normal digestion. These waste products are thought to be partially responsible for common illnesses including hypertension, heart disease, inflammation, and cancer. The prolonged daily fasting also allows the body to selectively burn body fat leading to weight loss. 8 food groups are recommended in the 8 hour diet. 4 groups are called health boosters and the other 4 groups are called fat busters. More information about the 8 hour diet can be found on any search engine or “the 8 hour diet” book.
You can eat your way to a healthy heart and a thinner, healthier body. I did it and you can do it too. I always tell my patients that good health is a choice. Which direction will you choose for your life? Would you rather eat everything you want, be overweight, and be susceptible to diseases such as hypertension, heart attacks, stroke, and cancer? Or will you choose to eat your way to healthy heart and thinner, healthier body. The choice is up to you!
Jonathan Dubin MD, FACC, FASE
Dr. Dubin is board certified in internal medicine, cardiovascular diseases, and echocardiography. He is a graduate of the Harvard Medical School and did his medical and cardiology training at the New York Hospital-Columbia Presbyterian medical center. He has been a practicing cardiologist in Baltimore for the last 25 years and he is affiliated with the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He is a member of the Toastmaster Club and he speaks frequently on a variety of topics including hypertension, heart disease and memory techniques. He also does motivational and inspiration speeches. More information about Dr. Dubin can be found on his website www.baltimoreheart.com and his previous speeches can be seen on his youtube channel www.youtube.com/jddubin.
Information in this article is for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to provide medical consultation or serve as a substitute for medical advice provided by a physician or qualified medical professional.