For the first time, the Mediterranean diet won the top spot as 2019’s best overall diet in rankings by US News and World Report. The Mediterranean diet also ranked first in best diet for diabetes and tied for first place in best heart-healthy diet. It also won first for best “healthy eating”, best plant-based diet, and the easiest diet to follow. Health experts evaluated 41 diets.
What is the Mediterranean diet?
Following the Mediterranean Diet could mean people are more successful keeping weight off while avoiding chronic disease. It’s low in red meat, sugar and saturated fat, but high in produce, nuts and other healthy foods. Along with a healthy lifestyle, the diet offers a host of health benefits: weight loss, heart and brain health, cancer prevention, and diabetes prevention and improved glucose regulation.
People eat differently in Greece, Italy, France and Spain so there’s not just one Mediterranean diet, but many principles are shared. Working with the Harvard School of Public Health, Oldways, a nonprofit food think tank in Boston, developed a consumer-friendly Mediterranean diet pyramid that offers guidelines on how to fill a plate. At the heart of the diet? Simple, plant-based cooking, with the majority of meals focused on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and seeds, nuts and a heavy emphasis on cooking with olive oil. Refined sugar and flour are rarely eaten. Saturated fats are only occasionally taken. The diet encourages mealtimes with friends or family, a mindful eating approach, as well as exercise for a healthy lifestyle.
How did they judge?
To judge diets, experts in heart disease and diabetes, nutrition, diet, food psychology and obesity reviewed research about the diets from medical journals, government reports and other resources. Diets are then ranked in seven categories: easy to follow, nutritional completeness, achievement of short-term and long-term weight loss, safety and the potential for preventing and managing diabetes and heart disease.
For diabetes, four diets tied for second place in the US News and World Report ranking: the DASH diet (dietary approaches to stop hypertension), the flexitarian diet, the Volumetric diet and the Mayo Clinic diet.
What do all these diets have in common? Processed foods are not a part of their plan.
For more information about the rankings, please click here.