After evaluating over 40 of the most popular diets from around the world, US News designated the Mediterranean diet as the best overall plan, followed by the DASH and the Flexitarian diets respectively. The Mediterranean diet also ranked number one in the following subcategories: best diet for healthy eating, best plant-based diet, best diet for diabetes and easiest diet to follow.
According the Mayo Clinic, the Mediterranean diet incorporates the basics of healthy eating, among other components characterizing the traditional cooking style of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Research indicates that this style of cooking reduces the risk of developing heart disease in addition to reduced incidence of cancer, and Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. Women who eat a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil and mixed nuts may have a reduced risk of breast cancer.
Key components of this diet include eating primarily plant-based foods, replacing butter with healthy fats, using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods, limiting red meat consumption, consuming fish and poultry on a regular basis, exercising regularly and even drinking red wine in moderation.
All of the diets that achieved high rankings had at least one thing in common. They call for the consumption of minimally processed foods and focus more on fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Dr. Sharon Bergquist, who founded the lifestyle medicine and wellness programs at Atlanta’s Emory University said, ”These minimally processed plant-based foods affect our health in a very deep way. They reduce inflammation, reduce oxidative stress, balance our gut bacteria, and they’re getting at the root cause of disease. It’s the same consistent theme that helps with overall health.”
Some of the lowest-ranked diets were the Dukan diet, the Body Reset diet, the Whole30 diet and the popular keto diet, that all focus on high-protein or high-fat foods with minimal carbohydrates.
According to assistant managing editor of health for US News and World Report Angela Haupt, the purpose of the rankings are to clear away the clutter and provide comprehensive, trustworthy information that highlights the diet standouts each year.