The world's top 10 diets
Mediterranean diet leads the way when it comes to weight loss, fitness and health
After the gluttonous festive season came the New Year – and with it resolutions most of us have already broken by now. According to a YouGov poll, the most common ones centre around weight, fitness and diet.
If you have decided to attempt a diet you’ll have to decide which is right for you. And to help you, the US News & World Report annually also releases a list of the best diets.
This year’s results make for pleasant reading for advocates of a sunny, southern European lifestyle: the Mediterranean Diet, for the second consecutive year, comes out on top.
The hallmarks of the diet include plenty of fruit and veg; olive oil; whole grains; fish; some red wine; and a limited intake of unhealthy fats.
To compile the rankings, US News & World Report gathered a panel of nutritionists, dietary consultants and physicians.
The panelists scored several diets in seven areas, among them “ease of compliance”, “likelihood of losing significant weight in the short and long term”, and “effectiveness against cardiovascular disease and diabetes”.
Rounding off the top three were the DASH Diet (an acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), which encourages foods high in blood-pressure deflating nutrients; and, in third place, the Flexitarian Diet, currently in vogue as people attempt to eat less meat.
Winners of specific categories were Weight Watchers (the Best Weight-Loss Diet), the HMR Diet (the Best Fast Weight-Loss Diet), and the Mediterranean Diet again (Easiest Diet to Follow).
Here’s the top 10 diets, according to the report:
1. Mediterranean Diet
Multiple studies have backed up claims that this diet – way of life, almost – is effective.
For example, there’s a correlation between improved heart health and the Mediterranean Diet. This is believed to be down to the diet’s relatively high intake of monounsaturated fats found in olive oil, nuts and oily fish.
The diet takes its cue from countries like Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal, where the cuisine centres around plenty of fruit and veg, fish, healthy oils and a limited saturated fat intake.
Research has found evidence that adherents have better heart and circulatory health; improved digestion; increased cognitive function; can lose weight; are less likely to develop Type 2 Diabetes.
There is growing belief it can help reduce the risk of depression, too.
2. DASH Diet
The DASH Diet finished second after previously coming up trumps eight years in a row. It seeks to help lower the threat of hypertension (high blood pressure) and promotes the consumption of foods high in blood-deflating nutrients like potassium, calcium, protein and fibre. Mostly, it’s stuff we already know we should eat: fruit and veg, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy.
The DASH Diet also advises against foods high in saturated fats. Salt is capped at 2,300 milligrams per day.
3. The Flexitarian Diet
Flexitarianism is on the rise, emphasising how many of us are cutting down on – but not necessarily totally eschewing – meat and dairy.
According to dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner you can still eat meat now and then, but should mostly stick to fruit, veg and whole grains and so on.
Adherents are said to have better overall health, and a lower rate of diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
It probably loses out to the Med Diet on ease of compliance, however, as it’s slightly stricter on meat consumption.
4. MIND Diet
The MIND Diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) is a mashup of the top two diets, honing in on foods thought to improve mental health.
While there’s no guarantee against dementia, it’s thought that berries, green leafy veg, nuts, olive oil, whole grains, fish and poultry are beneficial – while a maximum of a glass of red wine a day is allowed, too.
4. WW (Weight Watchers) Diet
The WW Diet ties with MIND to squeak into the top five (and comes first in the weight loss diet category).
The plan is focused on points, with each food or drink given a value. Foods worth zero points (good), include fruit and veg – the total number of zero-scoring foods is over 200. In-person meetings, phone and online chats help the patient succeed.
6. Mayo Clinic Diet
“Weight loss and a healthier lifestyle go hand in hand on the Mayo Clinic Diet,” says the US News & World Report. This means following the clinic’s food pyramid, with fruit, veg and whole grains encouraged (they have a low energy density, which means you can consume more while consuming fewer calories).
According to the clinic, participants should lose around two to four kilos in a fortnight.
7. Volumetrics Diet
Another that emphasises its positive role on diabetes and heart disease, the Volumetrics Diet also focuses on energy density.
This time there are four groups, from very low-density (non-starchy fruit and veg; low-fat milk; broth-based soups), to high-density (crisps, chocolate, butter, nuts and oil).
Essentially, portions for the lowest category are the highest, with those for the highest category the lowest.
8. TLC Diet
No, not the Tender Loving Care Diet, the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes plan aims to lower cholesterol by eating healthily – the idea is to consumer fruit and veg, bread, pasta, lean meats.
9. Nordic Diet
Another trendy one, this time based on the foods common in Scandinavia. While you don’t necessarily have to eat smelly fish, you’ll be encouraged to nosh on seasonal, locally sourced produce. Think elk meat, rapeseed oil, lingonberries, herrings and Icelandic yoghurt.
If you can’t get your hands on a freshly shot moose, not to worry. The diet essentially promotes eating fruit and veg, whole grains and fish (sounds familiar).
10. Ornish Diet
Invented by a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, the Ornish diet promises to make adherents “feel better, live longer, lose weight and gain health”.
How? By avoiding fat, refined carbs and animal protein. It is said to be highly effective in reducing risk of heart disease. – The Telegraph..