Did your diet make the cut?
Each year, over 45 million Americans go on a diet with hopes of achieving a healthier lifestyle. The U.S. News & World Report compared 40 popular diet plans to determine the best in nine categories, including the best diets for healthy eating, the best plant-based diets, and the best heart-healthy diets.
To calculate the rankings, U.S. News relied on a panel of the country's top nutritionists and physicians specializing in diabetes, heart health and weight loss. To win in their respective categories, diets had to be easy to follow, lead to short- and long-term weight loss, and help prevent cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
"There is an established theme of what is considered healthy eating, but no single diet is the best for all of us," said expert panelist Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, in a press release from U.S. News "[These] rankings reliably address the expertise from diverse nutrition professionals in evaluating diets. Ultimately, a 'best' diet is one that can be adopted, managed and sustained over time.”
For the first time, the Mediterranean Diet ranked as a Best Diet Overall, tying for the number one spot with the DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). The Med Diet was also named the number one easiest diet to follow because it has no set plan or tracking system—you’re simply encouraged to eat lots of produce, whole grains, beans, nuts, legumes, olive oil, fish, and other seafood. You can also have poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt in moderation, while limiting sweets and red meat.
“A big reason why the Mediterranean diet is so easy to follow and stick with is because it’s delicious, and not all that restrictive, and doesn’t focus heavily on portion sizes, but eating good-for-you ingredients in moderate amounts,” says Brierley Horton, MS, RD, Cooking Light’s food and nutrition director.
The Med Diet also focuses on the social side of eating—diet followers are encouraged to eat meals with others and drink few glasses of red wine each week (if they so choose.) The Mediterranean Diet also tied with the DASH Diet for number one in the Best Heart-Healthy Diets category and the Best Diets for Healthy Eating. The Med Diet was also named the best diet for Diabetes, and the number one Plant-Based Diet. Turns out, there’s good reason why it won so many accolades this year—research suggests the Mediterranean Diet boosts longevity and helps prevent a host of chronic diseases.
RELATED: Your Guide to Going Mediterranean
The DASH Diet aims to prevent and lower high blood pressure by consuming nutrients such as potassium, calcium, protein, and fiber. You don’t need to track each one—just make sure to eat lots of produce, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy and avoid fatty meats, saturated fats, full-fat dairy, excess salt, sugar-sweetened beverages, and sweets.
The DASH Diet also placed first in the Best Diets for Healthy Eating Category and was named the Best Heart-Healthy Diet. It was ranked number two in the Best Diets for Diabetes category.