The Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet took the top spot overall for the sixth straight year in the annual diet rankings by US publication, News and World Report.
This year, the publication rated 38 diet plans in all with rankings based on reviews from a panel of experts. Two of the new additions ranked highly: the MIND diet, which focuses on boosting brain health, and the, Fertility diet which aims to help women conceive faster but has been shown to benefit others as well. Weights Watchers diet won first place in the ‘Best Weight Loss’ diet category. The Weight Watchers and Mayo Clinic plans tied for first place in the Best Commercial Weight Loss Diet category.
The report and its experts take into account that people diet for different reasons; some are looking for short-term weight loss, others long term. Other people diet to improve their heart health, diabetes, or to lower their risks for those conditions.
The DASH diet was developed by the US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to help people prevent high blood pressure. The plan focuses on eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains while lowering salt. Besides being named Best Diet Overall, DASH also got first place in the category of Best Diets for Healthy Eating.
For ‘Best Overall’, the MIND diet came in second after DASH, tying with TLC. The MIND diet, which stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, includes foods like berries, leafy greens, and fish. The diet is believed to result in major drop in risk for Alzheimer’s disease, the memory-sapping disorder. The Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) is more than a diet it is a program that can help you lower cholesterol through lifestyle changes that include diet, exercise, weight loss, and not smoking.
For ‘Fast Weight Loss’, the HMR (Health Management Resources) and ‘Biggest Loser’ plans tied for first place. HMR is a low-calorie plan that includes meal-replacement shakes and emphasizes plenty of fruits and vegetables. The Biggest Loser diet has you eat regular meals with lean protein, fruits, and vegetables, keep a food journal, and control your portions, along with physical activity.
In the ‘Easiest to Follow’ category, Weight Watchers, Fertility, and MIND tied for first, while in the ‘Best for Healthy Eating’ group, DASH came in first, followed by TLC and Mediterranean, which is a way of eating rather than a formal diet plan that emphasizes fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
For those with diabetes, the Fertility diet, surprisingly, was first. The diet focuses on changes that are healthy for everyone, like cutting down on red meat and getting protein from nuts and vegetables. DASH and Biggest Loser tied for second place in this category.
For ‘Best Diets for Heart Disease’, Ornish, TLC, and DASH took the first three spots, respectively. The Ornish diet is very low-fat, with 10 percent of calories from fat, and it encourages exercise. It can be tailored to goals such as reversing heart disease or diabetes, or losing weight.
The Mediterranean Diet, Flexitarian (avoiding meat most of the time), and Ornish plans took top spots for ‘Best Plant-Based Diets’. Meanwhile, the Whole30 diet, a 30-day program that prohibits legumes, grains, dairy, alcohol, added sugar, and processed food, ranked at the bottom of the list.
Dietitians and nutritionists say that choosing a diet plan should be based on food plans that are sustainable, flexible and enjoyable. They say that weight loss is just one part of a healthy weight, keeping weight off is the important part. Pointing out that the top diets ranked on the US list make healthy eating sustainable, the experts add the focus should be on the real goal of lowering body fat while building lean mass.