Shopping for a new diet to start the year? Popular diets ranked: the DASH and Mediterranean come out on top, again

This article was originally published by our friends at Natural News

After the holiday season, the first order of business this year is, ironically, getting rid of “holiday pounds.” Just in time, consumer site U.S. News & World Report has released its annual Best Diets ranking — with both the DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet tying for the best overall diet for 2018.

The DASH diet, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, marks its eighth consecutive year of being named as the top overall diet. Developed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the diet highlights fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods, as well as whole grains, poultry, fish, lean meats, beans, and nuts.

Interestingly, this is the first time that the Mediterranean diet has ranked as the best overall diet, tying with the DASH diet. The diet, which is low in saturated fat but high in vegetable oils, is reported to prevent certain chronic illnesses.

Why are these diets rated the best?

For a diet to be rated highly, it must be easy to follow, proven to be nutritious, effective for weight loss, and must protect against diabetes and heart disease.

This year, the Keto diet was included in the list, with experts placing it as one of the least effective diets because of its highly-restrictive carbohydrate requirement.

“Whether you’re trying to lose weight or manage a chronic disease like diabetes, the 2018 Best Diets rankings are designed to help consumers identify the right diet for their specific needs,” according to Angela Haupt, Assistant Managing Editor of Health at U.S. News. “By profiling and providing in-depth data on 40 diets, consumers can rely on U.S. News for the tools they need to feel empowered to make well-informed, personalized choices in order to maintain overall healthier lifestyles.”

For this year’s rankings, an expert panel of nutritionists, dietary consultants, and physicians convened to score 40 diets. Relevant scientific literature regarding the diets was reviewed to create an accurate profile of the diet, as well as determine its overall score.

Looking at the DASH diet: it’s literally what the doctor ordered

The DASH diet is defined as “a flexible and balanced eating plan that helps create a heart-healthy eating style for life.” This diet, a brainchild of experts from the NIH, is not a “fad diet,” but a healthy eating plan that helps with long-term lifestyle changes.

A prominent feature of the DASH diet is that it provides daily and weekly nutritional goals instead of specific food items. For people who are interested in following the DASH eating plan, here are some suggestions:

  • Eat fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Add fat-free or low-fat dairy products in your diet like fish, poultry, beans, nuts, and vegetable oils.
  • Cut back on saturated fat like fatty meat, full-fat dairy products, and tropical oils such as coconut, palm kernel, and palm oil.
  • Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages and sweets.

The DASH diet requires 2,000 calories a day, which could be broken down into the following recommended daily eating plan:

  • Grains: six to eight servings
  • Meats, poultry, and fish: six servings or less
  • Vegetables: four to five servings
  • Fruit: four to five servings
  • Low-fat or fat-free products: two to three servings
  • Sodium: 2,300 milligrams or less

The following items should be eaten in moderation.

  • Nuts, seeds, dry beans, and peas: four to five servings a week
  • Sweets: five servings a week or less

The Mediterranean diet: the sophisticated diet that’s good for the heart

The Mediterranean diet gets its name from the region where it was observed. This was first coined by physiologist Ancel Keys after observing the dietary habits of people in Greece and southern Italy during the 1960s. A key component of this diet is the increased intake of extra virgin (cold pressed) olive oil, green leafy vegetables, fruits, cereals, and nuts. It also incorporates red wine and fish. While there is no required serving size, the Mediterranean diet is normally presented in a pyramid of dietary recommendations, like the following:

  • Olive oil: every meal
  • Vegetables: two servings per meal or less
  • Fruits: one to two servings per meal
  • Bread and cereals: one to two servings per meal
  • Legumes: two servings per week or less
  • Nuts: one to two servings per day
  • Fish and seafood: two servings per week or less
  • Eggs: two to four servings per week
  • Poultry: two servings per week
  • Dairy foods: two servings daily
  • Red meat: less than two servings a week
  • Sweets: less than two servings a week
  • Red wine: In moderation and depending on social beliefs


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