The Mediterranean Diet has been named the best overall diet by the U.S. News & World Report for the sixth straight year.
MedDiet also ranked first in several individual categories, including the best plant-based diet, the best diet for healthy eating, and in two new categories, the best family-friendly diet and the best diet for the health of bones and joints.
“The reasons [that the Mediterranean diet is popular] are fairly simple,” Gretel Schueller, managing editor of health at U.S. News and World Report, told NBC’s Today show. “You’re eating delicious, whole foods. It’s backed by decades of research showing its health benefits for a variety of conditions. It’s healthy. It doesn’t cut out any food groups or specific foods. So, it allows it to be sustainable.”
Adhering to the MedDiet can have an overwhelming number of health benefits. Scientific research has repeatedly demonstrated MedDiet’s ability to control diabetes, reduce obesity levels, reduce the risk of heart disease and prevent cancer, to name a few.
“When we talk about the Mediterranean diet, it’s more of a lifestyle and, therefore, we can talk about how to apply it to a variety of cuisines,” Schueller added. “You’re looking at foods that are high in fiber and whole grains, and [it] includes a lot of whole foods and moderate amounts of healthy fats.”
This year, the editors and journalists at U.S. News and World Report reduced the number of diets and eating plans available for evaluation by a panel of experts. The number of diets evaluated was 24 instead of 40 because of the overlap between some eating patterns and the lack of support for some commercial diets.
The panel comprised 33 experts, including doctors, nutritionists and scientists from top U.S. research centers and universities. They rated each diet in 11 categories, including short- and long-term weight loss, ease of compliance, safety and nutrition.
The Mediterranean topped other dietary habits, such as DASH and the flexitarian diet, both of which joined MIND, Weight Watchers and TLC as the second-best diets overall.
“This [the Mediterranean] is hands down the best diet,” a panelist noted. “It encourages whole natural foods and has the research to back it up. It is also the most delicious.”
Other diets, such as the keto, Atkins and raw food diets, fell out of favor due to their complex rules and a lack of sustainability.
“[Very low carbohydrate diets] are not sustainable,” said nutritionist Camila Martin from the University of Wisconsin Health in Madison, who was not a member of the U.S. News experts panel.
“Carbs are things that people find bring them a lot of comfort. They are the base of a lot of traditional diets and in a lot of different cultures. They’re easy to grow, and [they offer] a very nurturing feeling.”
“What’s nice is Mediterranean is relatively user friendly,” Martin also said. “How it’s structured is similar to the [U.S. Department of Agriculture] healthy eating plan. It’s very modifiable based off what people have access to, even with limited resources.”