New year, new you, new diet? When it comes to transforming our eating habits (no matter your starting point and current diet of choice), choosing the best diets is no easy decision. Between meal planning, health goals, and, well, how simple it is to stick to, there are so many factors that go into an ideal plan.
As part of its annual report, U.S. News has ranked the best diets and consulted with a panel of health experts to determine which national diets prove most effective.
To be top-rated, a diet had to be relatively easy to follow, nutritious, safe, effective for weight loss and protective against diabetes and heart disease,” the site reported. And its finding may surprise you.
Here are the best diets, according to the experts:
Known as the diet that was created to help combat high blood pressure and treat hypertension, the DASH Diet is developed by The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The diet relies heavily on produce (you’re encouraged to eat seven to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables every day), whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy. It’s also low in saturated fats and added sugars. Eliminating those refined and processed foods is largely what makes the diet a powerful way to combat chronic disease, the experts say.
These days, it seems like we can’t sing enough praises of the Mediterranean diet. With its heavy reliance on fruits, vegetables, fish, olive oil and even wine (in moderation), it’s quickly become a favourite and a staple way of eating for generations.
There’s a reason why people who hail from the “Blue Zones” region in the Mediterranean tend to live to be well over 100. They’re certainly doing something right.
The name of the diet itself comes from the combination of “vegetarian” and “flexible,” so if Meatless Monday is a breeze for you, you might want to expand upon that game plan. But if meat is a regular part of your diet, the good news is that you don’t have to completely cut it out. Registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner says you can simply be vegetarian majority of the time — and embrace proteins like tofu — and still enjoy your meat dishes once in a while.
The famed Weight Watchers Diet (it’s a favourite of Oprah’s, by the way) centers around the idea that each food or dish has a designed amount of nutritional points. In the company’s new “Beyond the Scale Program,” foods that will keep you fuller for longer cost fewer points than those that have empty calories, encouraging eaters to focus their point allocations towards foods that hold more nutritional value.
Taking the best parts of the DASH and Mediterranean diets, the MIND diet is all about brain health and Alzheimer’s prevention.
“The emphasis is on eating from 10 brain-healthy food groups: green leafy vegetables in particular, all other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and wine,” U.S. News says. “Meanwhile, MIND adherents avoid foods from the five unhealthy groups: red meats, butter and stick margarine, cheeses, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food.”
Which diet seems best for you? Maybe these secrets from healthy women around the world will help you decide, as well.