The Science Behind Our Lifestyle Program

A positive lifestyle, particularly having good eating habits and sufficient physical activity, is a proven way to improve an individual's cardiovascular health.1

The Boston Heart Lifestyle Program translates personalized information into evidence-based dietary and behavioral advice to help individuals make long lasting lifestyle changes that can prevent, manage and reverse their cardiovascular disease (CVD) risks.

Our novel approach draws on original dietary studies by nutrition, weight loss and diabetes-reversal experts Dr. Michael Dansinger, MD, Ernst Schaefer, MD; and Joi Gleason, MS, RD, LDN.

To help individuals adopt a healthier eating strategy that is designed specifically for them, we provide personalized nutrition plans based on their unique laboratory test results, risk factors and preferences, integrated with proven guidelines and the latest insights from recent research findings.

Our Registered Dietitians, trained in our specific coaching methodology, combined with easy-to-use tools, help individuals build momentum and stick with their plan to successfully manage and reverse their CVD risks.

Food’s Powerful Role in Reducing CVD Risk

The Boston Heart Lifestyle Program bases its dietary modifications on three elements that have been scientifically proven2 to decrease and manage CVD risk factors: reducing calories, avoiding excess saturated fat and limiting refined carbohydrates.

Reducing Calories

Diet comparisons conducted through randomized trials have shown that people's reduction in CVD risk factors is generally proportional to their adherence to a diet and loss of excess body weight—regardless of diet type.2

""…diets that are successful in causing weight loss can emphasize a range of fat, protein, and carbohydrate compositions that have beneficial effects on risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes."
- Sacks, New England Journal of Medicine (2009)3

The Lifestyle Program provides eating plans suited to an individual’s specific calorie targets, risk factors and dietary preferences that can help him or her adhere to an eating plan and achieve optimal weight loss results.

Avoiding Excess Saturated Fat

Eating too much saturated fat can increase CVD risk by elevating unhealthy LDL-C in the blood. Individuals can reduce CVD factors by replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat in their diet.

“Epidemiologic studies and randomized clinical trials have provided consistent evidence that replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat, but not carbohydrates, is beneficial for coronary heart disease. Therefore, dietary recommendations should emphasize substitution of polyunsaturated fat and minimally processed grains for saturated fat.”
- Siri-Tarino, Current Atherosclerosis Reports (2010)4

Boston Heart's dietary plans avoid foods with excess saturated fat, which is critical when the individual already has CVD or high LDL-C levels.

Limiting Refined Carbohydrates

Diets that are relatively higher in protein and lower in refined carbohydrates have been associated with reducing CVD risk, including reducing blood pressure and increasing HDL-C levels. In fact, such diets also have been shown to reverse abnormalities associated with metabolic syndrome. Additionally, according to many studies, eating whole grains may reduce the risk of CVD and type 2 diabetes.

"Our results support a growing body of research suggesting that carbohydrate restriction and saturated fat restriction have different effects on cardiovascular risk profiles. Low carbohydrate diets consistently increase HDL cholesterol and low–saturated fat diets consistently decrease LDL cholesterol levels. Low carbohydrate diets have typically been more effective for short-term reduction of serum triglycerides, glucose and/or insulin."
- Dansinger, JAMA (2005)5

Boston Heart's dietary plans manage carbohydrate intake while incorporating an appropriate balance of carbohydrates, fats and proteins, paying particular attention to the individual's risk factors.

Personalization Drives Persistence

When nutrition guidelines are personalized, the individual is much more likely to stick with the program and achieve the desired weight loss and risk-reduction results.

Boston Heart's dietary plans are formulated based on an individual’s specific laboratory test results, food preferences and lifestyle factors. This makes our Lifestyle Program markedly different from other programs that try to reduce and manage CVD risk.

Exercise is Essential

Physical activity is strongly and consistently associated with good heart health. What's more, studies have shown that increased physical activity is associated with reduced cardiovascular event recurrence, and increased survival after a first myocardial infarction.6

The Boston Heart Lifestyle Program provides exercise advice that is individualized and based on a person’s current level of activity, which supports their transition to a heart healthy lifestyle.

Coaching Makes the Difference

Studies have shown that advice given to patients over the phone by a Registered Dietitian can result in significant improvements in weight and cholesterol levels.7

With our program, patients have a lifeline—Registered Dietitians who are trained in our proprietary coaching methodology to motivate individuals to follow through with their programs. Through one-on-one dialogue with patients, our coaches review and clarify the Life Plan nutrition goals and meal plans, answer questions, and provide advice and encouragement to help patients overcome hurdles and achieve success.

1. Angermayr L, Melchart D, Linde K., Multifactorial lifestyle interventions in the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes mellitus--a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Ann Behav Med. 2010 Aug;40(1):49–64.
2. Dansinger. Effectiveness of Popular Weight Loss Diets on HDL. Manuscript in Process.
3. Sacks FM, Bray GA, Carey VJ, et al. Comparison of weight-loss diets with different compositions of fat, protein, and carbohydrates. N Engl J Med. 2009;360:859–873.
4. Siri-Tarino PW, Sun Q, Hu FB, Krauss RM. Saturated fatty acids and risk of coronary heart disease: modulation by replacement nutrients. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2010;12:384–390.
5. Dansinger ML, Gleason JA, Griffith JL, Selker HP, Schaefer EJ. Comparison of the Atkins, Ornish, Weight Watchers, and Zone diets for weight loss and heart disease risk reduction: a randomized trial. JAMA. 2005;293:43–53.
6. Steffen-Batey L, et al. Change in level of physical activity and risk of all-cause mortality or reinfarction: The Corpus Christi Heart Project. Circulation. 2000 Oct 31;102(18):2204–9.
7. Kris-Etherton PM, et al. High-soluble-fiber foods in conjunction with a telephone-based, personalized behavior change support service result in favorable changes in lipids and lifestyles after 7 weeks. J Am Diet Assoc. 2002;102(4):503-510.

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