Often, the ones that garner the most attention aren’t even among the best.
For its annual list, US News & World Report ranked 38 eating plans, considering different criteria including how easy the diet is to follow, its effects on weight loss (both short and long term), how nutritional and safe the diet is, and how well it helps prevent diabetes and heart disease.
The ranking drew on the expertise of a panel of dietitians and nutritionists, but didn’t account for any costs associated with the diet plans, or how exercise fit into the programs.
Here’s what diets ranked above the rest to make the top 10.
But first, the worst-performing diets.
Of the 38 plans US News & World Report looked at, a number weren’t up to snuff.
The Whole30 diet, in particular, was the lowest ranked diet overall for the second year in a row. The Dukan and Paleo diets were also toward the bottom of the list, which US News attributed to the diets being too restrictive. The diets didn’t have the same staying power long-term as others that ranked higher.
Learn more about what experts think of the Whole30 diet here.
No. 10 (TIE) Vegetarian diet
Vegetarian diets cleared the top 10 in the 2017 ranking, up from #13 in 2016. The diet is simple: no meat allowed. Ideally, the meat will be replaced with more vegetables which could help you feel more full.
No. 10 (TIE) Ornish diet
Developed by Dr. Dean Ornish, this diet looks at food on a “spectrum,” with some things being more healthy than others (essentially the less processed the better). The diet emphasizes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and some fat if it contains omega 3 fatty acids.
The diet was also ranked one of the highest for heart disease.
No. 10 (TIE) Jenny Craig diet
Known for its celebrity spokespeople including Kirstie Alley and Mariah Carey, Jenny Craig uses weight-control counseling and prepared meals that can either be delivered or picked up at a Jenny Craig location.
No. 4 (TIE) Weight Watchers diet
Weight Watchers rose through the US News & World Report’s rankings in 2017 because of the company’s switch to its “Beyond the Scale” program.
“The way we think about it is that we used to have a very narrow focus on weight, and now weight is one of things we focus on but it’s not the only thing,” Weight Watchers chief scientific officer Gary Foster explained to Time magazine in late 2015. “The consumer sentiment is, ‘I still want to lose weight but I’m thinking about in a more holistic way.” Weight Watchers still uses its signature points system.
The Weight Watchers diet also ranked as the best weight lost diet.
No. 4 (TIE) TLC diet
The TLC diet, which stands for “Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes,” is all about lowering cholesterol above all else. It emphasizes eating less saturated fats like chicken with the skin on it, butter, and cheese, while eating more fruits, vegetables, skinless chicken, fish, and low-fat dairy products.
No. 4 (TIE) Mayo Clinic diet
The diet, developed by the Rochester, Minnesota-based research group, is all about breaking bad habits and setting up good habits in their place. In the first part of the diet, which lasts for two weeks, you may lose 6-10 pounds thanks to the new habits you set up. The diet comes with its own food pyramid that puts fruits and vegetables at the bottom.
No. 3 MIND diet
The MIND diet, which claimed the #2 spot last year, focuses on foods meant to help your brain, specifically preventing neurological diseases including Alzheimer’s. It’s a hybrid version of the Mediterranean and DASH diets, focusing on the aspects of those diets that have to do with the brain.
Berries, olive oil, nuts, and dark leafy greens are staples of the diet picked based on large-scale studies of cognitive decline.
No. 2 Mediterranean diet
The Mediterranean diet is modeled off of foods commonly eaten in countries on the Mediterranean Sea. It’s typically high in fruits and vegetables, fish, and whole grains like whole wheat and brown rice.
US News & World Report also named the diet the best plant-based diet of the 38 considered, and it was among the easiest to follow.
No. 1 DASH diet
For the seventh year in a row, the DASH diet was named the best. DASH stands for “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.” Hypertension, otherwise known as abnormally high blood pressure, is an incredibly common condition in the US.
It relies on lowering your sodium intake to no more than 2,300 milligrams a day, along with eating a diet filled with vegetables, fruits, and whole grains (For reference, a single slice of pizza contains about 640 milligrams of sodium, roughly a quarter of that sodium limit).
“The DASH diet is really a safe plan for everyone,” Angela Haupt, assistant managing editor of Health at US News & World Report, told Business Insider in 2016. “There’s nothing exciting about it and that’s what makes it a good plan. It’s not some fad diet making outlandish claims that you can’t rely on.”
In addition to being crowned overall best diet, the DASH diet was also deemed the best diet for healthy eating, the best diet for diabetes, and the best diet for heart disease.
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