y now, most of us are done with fad diets. But if you are looking for guidance on the healthiest eating patterns to follow, each January a team of health experts and nutritionists gives their verdict on the best in the world for the annual U.S. News & World Report.
In 2021, for the fourth year in a row, it has named the Mediterranean diet as the best overall to follow, which also claimed the top spot in five other categories: Best Diet for Healthy Eating, Easiest Diet to Follow, Best Diets for Diabetes, Best Plant Based Diet and Best Heart-Healthy Diet.
The Mediterranean diet, although not a diet as such, but more of a way of life that’s linked to improved longevity, is rich in fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, nuts, olive oil and fish, while low in red meat, sugar and saturated fat – but the good news is, you can still enjoy a glass of red with it.
It’s widely accepted by experts that following this eating pattern, along with an active lifestyle, can reap a long list of health benefits including weight management, heart and brain health, cancer prevention and diabetes prevention.
The panel of 24 experts marked 39 diets in total across seven categories, evaluating each on factors such as ease of compliance, likelihood of losing significant weight in both the short and long term, and effectiveness against cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
At the bottom of the pile were more restrictive eating plans, such as the keto, a high-fat, low carb diet that’s designed to make your body enter a state in which it relies on fat for energy – experts ranked this near or at the bottom of virtually all categories. The dukan diet, a high-protein, low-carb eating plan also ranked extremely low for being too restrictive, with the panellists concluding there was little evidence to back it up, with one deeming it “idiotic. ”
Newcomers to the list this year included the Noom Diet, which focuses on behaviour change and connects followers via an app to create a supportive community for weight loss for which it was applauded by some of the team of experts.
Meanwhile, the flexitarian and DASH diets both took second place for best overall diet again this year. The flexitarian diet is all about eating as much of a vegetarian diet as possible with some meat allowed when the cravings hit. The DASH Diet focuses on reducing your sodium intake, consisting of lots of veggies, wholegrains, lean protein and low-fat dairy, while discouraging saturated fat, full dairy and sugar and is heralded for its ability to promote healthy blood pressure.
The 11 best diets to follow, according to the report
1. Mediterranean diet – may support heart and brain health and help to prevent against diseases like cancer and diabetes.
2. DASH diet – helps fight high blood pressure and is nutritionally complete.
3. The Flexitarian diet – mostly plant-based, with some meat now and again, making it less restrictive than other diets.
4. Weight Watchers diet – calorie counting certainly isn’t for everyone, but the experts scored this highest overall for weight loss and fat loss.
5. Mayo Clinic diet – aims to recalibrate your eating habits to support healthier lifestyle choices.
6. MIND diet – science-backed eating plan which aims to prevent mental decline.
7. TLC diet – aims to cut cholesterol and may be particularly beneficial for heart health.
8. Volumetrics diet – focuses on eating low calorie, nutrient-dense foods that fill you up.
9. Nordic diet – focuses on seasonal and locally-sourced foods, incorporating elements of Scandinavian eating.
10. Ornish diet – the experts note that the severe fat restriction of this diet makes it difficult to stick to.
11. Vegetarian diet – is nutritionally complete and supports heart health.