The British Heart Foundation & the Cabbage Diet

The British Heart Foundation diet and the cabbage diet -- commonly called the cabbage soup diet -- are both rapid-weight-loss programs that promise you can lose weight quickly and easily by adhering to highly detailed daily menu plans. The two diets emphasize different foods, but health professionals and nutritionists say that both programs contain the basic characteristics of potentially harmful fad diets and are not a good choice if you are seeking long-term weight loss. Speak to your doctor about the possible dangers before beginning either the British Heart Foundation diet or the cabbage diet.

British Heart Foundation Diet

The British Heart Foundation diet exists under a variety of other names, including the Greenlane diet, the Cleveland Clinic 3-day diet, the American Heart Association diet and the cardiac diet. All consist of a three-day eating plan detailing specific types and amounts of foods that, according to the diets, you must follow exactly or you won't lose the maximum amount of weight -- 10 pounds in 36 hours. Breakfast on the diet typically consists of dry toast, crackers, an egg, fruit such as banana or grapefruit and black coffee or tea. Lunch might be 4 ounces of canned tuna or cottage cheese and crackers, while the dinner menus call for hot dogs or cold meat and vegetables such as broccoli, beets or carrots followed by vanilla ice cream.

Cabbage Soup Diet

The cabbage soup diet -- which is often called the Mayo Clinic diet, the Sacred Heart Hospital diet or the Miami Heart Institute diet -- is centered around a homemade cabbage soup prepared with tomatoes, cabbage, celery, green onions, green peppers, dry onion soup mix and V-8 juice. You eat unlimited amounts of the soup for a week, pairing each day's soup with a different additional food. For example, on Day 1, you eat the soup with any type of fruit except for bananas; on Day 4, you eat it with only six bananas and skim milk; on Day 5, unlimited beef and vegetables accompany the soup. Proponents of the diet claim you can lose up to 17 pounds in seven days if you follow the diet.

Similarities and Differences

Both the British Heart Foundation diet and the cabbage diet are very-low-calorie weight-management programs: If followed exactly, the British Heart Foundation diet provides approximately 700 to 1,100 calories per day while the cabbage diet provides between 800 and 1,000 calories. Both severely restrict carbohydrates and dairy products and do not allow for a wide variety of whole grains, vegetables and fruits. In addition, proponents of both diets claim that it is the combination of foods that induces weight loss; regular exercise and low-fat eating habits are not mentioned or encouraged. The diets differ only in their menu plans and duration.

Expert Insight

The British Heart Foundation contends that it was not responsible for the three-day diet that bears its name. The many institutions allegedly connected to the cabbage soup plan also deny endorsing or promoting any diet based on cabbage soup. According to senior British Heart Foundation dietitian Victoria Taylor, diets of this type are not an effective way to lose weight and can cause fatigue and constipation. Adult men should consume at least 2,500 calories daily, and adult women need at least 2,000 calories per day, according to the Mail Online. Extreme eating plans that provide too few calories may lead to repeated yo-yo dieting, which can increase your risk of hypertension, gallstones and high cholesterol. In addition, health professionals warn that diets requiring followers to restrict entire categories of food can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies. The British Heart Foundation advises that the best way to lose weight and enhance health is to eat a balanced, low-fat, low-sugar diet that is rich in a wide spectrum of whole grains, dairy products, lean protein and fresh fruits and vegetables.