- The US News & World Report named the Mediterranean diet the best overall diet for the fourth year in a row.
- The Mediterranean diet focuses on fruits, vegetables, and a moderate intake of red wine.
- Restrictive diets like keto are among the worst eating patterns as they are not long-term and lack nutrition.
The Mediterranean diet has been named the overall best diet in 2021. The eating plan was the top choice of a panel of nutritionists and health and weight loss specialists who picked out39 eating plans. This year, four new diets were included in the rankings: the Noom Diet, the Modified Keto Diet, the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) Diet, and the Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) Diet.
The diet plans were rated based on the following categories:
- nutritional completeness
- how easy the diet is to follow
- effectiveness for long- and short-term weight loss
- safety and side effects
- the potential to prevent illnesses
The Mediterranean diet was chosen as the overall best diet because it’s healthy, easy to follow, best for diabetes and the heart, and the best plant-based diet. Overall, flexitarian diets topped the list, while restrictive diets were at the bottom.
The Mediterranean diet: high in fresh fruits and vegetables and low in red meat and sugar
The Mediterranean diet concept is inspired by the eating patterns of countries that border the Mediterranean Sea, most of which are also part of the so-called blue-zone where people live longer. Harvard School of Public Health and the non-profit think tank Oldways came up with a diet based on these places’ eating principles.
The Mediterranean diet emphasizes fresh produce, whole grains, nuts, seeds, seafood, and moderate amounts of wine. These foods are packed with vitamins, essential nutrients, and plant-based compounds that help prevent diseases like diabetes, certain cancers, cognitive decline. The diet also promotes weight loss by limiting high-calorie processed foods and refined sugars.
The diet also lowers bad cholesterol because it focuses on good fats like olive oil, avocado, and salmon and cuts out saturated fats and trans fats.
The Mediterranean diet is safe and easy to follow because it doesn’t restrict calories or entail strict meal planning, preventing unwanted side effects.
Restrictive diets get the lowest rankings
High-fat, low-carb diets, like the keto diet, were ranked low overall because they’re difficult to sustain in the long term and provide unbalanced nutrition.
The GAPS diet, which requires eliminating grains, starchy vegetables, refined carbs, and pasteurized dairy, tied with keto in 37th place, while the high-protein, low-carb Dukan Diet, landed at the very bottom of the list because of its adverse effects on the kidneys. Experts also continue to doubt the effectiveness of the Whole30 diet, which eliminates all grains, sugars, bread, desserts, alcohol, dairy, legumes, and processed foods. Experts also dismissed the modified keto diet as a non-keto diet.
The Noom Diet impressed some panelists
The Noom Diet, a weight loss plan that focuses on behavior change, landed the 12th spot for the best overall diet.
Sustainable and inexpensive eating plans are highly-ranked
The flexitarian and DASH diets were also standouts this year. The flexitarian diet entails sticking to mostly plant-based foods and moderate amounts of high-quality animal products. The DASH diet, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet, focuses on limiting sodium intake and eating more nutrient-rich foods that lower blood pressure and promote overall health.
The flexitarian and Weight Watchers were named the best long-term weight-loss diet, while the DASH and Mediterranean were hailed the best diet for healthy eating.