It’s the first of the year, so that means many people are resolving to eat healthier. Not all diet plans are created equal, however.
To help you decide which diet might be best for you, U.S. News & World Report — with help from a panel of diet, nutrition and health experts — annually ranks the best diets so you can narrow down your options.
Best Diets 2022 cuts through the claims some diets make, such losing a lot of weight in a little time. Now in its 12th year, U.S. News’ rankings deliver the facts about and ranks 40 diets on a range of levels, from their heart healthiness to their likelihood to help you lose weight.
“Many of the diets, like WW (Weight Watchers), are household names, while others, like the DASH (dietary approaches to stop hypertension) diet, should be,” U.S. News wrote. “To create the latest edition of the rankings, U.S. News editors and reporters spent months winnowing potential additions to our diet roster and then mining medical journals, government reports and other resources to create in-depth profiles for those that made the cut.”
Each profile explains how the diet works, determines whether its claims add up, scrutinizes it for possible health risks — and let’s you know what it’s like to actually live on the diet.
For the fifth year straight, the experts selected the Mediterranean diet as the best out there.
“There isn’t ‘a’ Mediterranean diet,” U.S. News wrote. “Greeks eat differently from Italians, who eat differently from the French and Spanish. But they share many of the same principles. Working with the Harvard School of Public Health and the World Health Organization, Oldways, a nonprofit food think tank in Boston, developed a consumer-friendly Mediterranean diet pyramid that offers guidelines on how to fill your plate — and maybe wineglass — the Mediterranean way.”
Pros: It’s nutritionally sound and includes diverse foods and flavors.
Cons: It takes some work and can be moderately pricey.
Retaining its tie for second place was the DASH diet. It emphasizes the foods you’ve always been told to eat (fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy), which are high in blood pressure-deflating nutrients like potassium, calcium, protein and fiber. DASH discourages saturated fats, full-fat dairy, tropical oils and sugar-sweetened beverages.
“Following DASH also means capping sodium at 2,300 milligrams a day, which followers will eventually lower to about 1,500 milligrams,” U.S. News wrote.
Pros: It’s heart healthy and nutritionally sound.
Cons: It takes some work to stay on it, and is somewhat pricey.
Also staying tied for second place was the Flexitarian diet, which is a marriage of two words: flexible and vegetarian.
In her 2009 book “The Flexitarian Diet: The Mostly Vegetarian Way to Lose Weight, Be Healthier, Prevent Disease and Add Years to Your Life,” registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner said you can be a vegetarian most of the time, but still enjoy a burger or steak when the urge hits.
“By eating more plants and less meat, it’s suggested that people who follow the diet will not only lose weight but can improve their overall health, lowering their rate of heart disease, diabetes and cancer, and live longer as a result,” the ranking states.
Pros: This diet is flexible and offers plenty of recipes.
Cons: The emphasis is on home cooking and lots of fruits and veggies, so it might be tough to maintain if you don’t like any of those things.
Breaking in to the top five this year was the MIND — Mediterranean-DASH intervention for neurodegenerative delay — diet.
The MIND diet takes two proven diets — DASH and Mediterranean — and focuses on the foods in each that specifically improve brain health, which might lower your risk of mental decline.
“These diets provide fewer carbs than is recommended by government guidelines and are known to bring on quick weight loss,” U.S. News wrote.
Pros: MIND blends two proven healthy diets and might boost your brain power.
Cons: Details of the diet aren’t completely fleshed out, and there aren’t a lot of recipes and resources to help you along.
Mayo Clinic diet
Rounding out the top five is the Mayo Clinic diet, which helps you “recalibrate your eating habits, breaking bad ones and replacing them with good ones with the help of the Mayo Clinic’s unique food pyramid,” U.S. New wrote.
The pyramid emphasizes whole grains, fruits and vegetables, which have low energy density, so you can eat more but take in fewer calories.
“By sticking with the Mayo Clinic diet, you’re expected to shed 6 to 10 pounds in two weeks and continue losing 1 to 2 pounds weekly until you’ve hit your goal weight,” the ranking states.
Pros: This diet is nutritionally sound and can shape your diet.
Cons: It takes a lot of work and can be somewhat pricey.
You can research the other 35 diets on U.S. News & World Report’s website.
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