Few things—except maybe the Premier League—can be as divisive as conversations about the healthiest diet. With almost extreme levels of fanaticism, the world of health pundits is divided into distinct camps with Intermittent Fasting fans waging war on the Keto converts or both teams having heated arguments with vegetarians over what was supposed to be a few casual beers. But, with science on our side, there has to be an answer to that age-old question: what is the healthiest diet?
That’s precisely what a recent report set out to figure out. The US News & World Report assembled the Avengers of nutrition, putting together a panel of nutritionists and doctors to vet the health benefits of the world’s various diets. The top diets were selected based on a few important factors: safety, ease of following, sustainability, weight loss and healthiness.
Here’s exactly how they fared:
1. Mediterranean Diet
The undefeated champion of this report’s six-year-long lifespan has notched another easy victory, dominating each of the panel’s categories. Logging an impressive 4.2 out of 5 for weight loss and 4.6 for healthiness, it trounced its competitors across almost every measurable metric.
The expert panel highlighted the fact that the Mediterranean encourages healthy eating patterns and has been shown to drastically lower your risk of chronic disease including certain cancers, diabetes and heart disease. The biggest perk: most dishes are plant-based, so almost every meal will ramp up your gut health. The other heroes on the menu include a plethora of nuts, seeds, legumes and seafood. Dig in!
2. DASH Diet
DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. And that’s a pretty fine-tuned focus. The diet serves up foods that are rich in magnesium, calcium and potassium, nutrients with have been shown to help regulate blood pressure. It also aims to nix problematic compounds like saturated fats, added sugars and sodium.
The diet is incredibly flexible and unrestrictive, two qualities that definitely helped it climb up the rankings. In general, your goal should be to wolf down as many fruits, vegetables and whole grains as you can while subbing out typical dairy products for either low-fat or fat-free alternatives. Chicken, fish, nuts and beans are also on the menu.
Overall, the diet scored a respectable 4.5 for healthiness and 4.4 for weight loss. If you’re looking for a simple diet to jumpstart your health journey—this is it. The Flexitarian diet, which takes a simple approach, ranked just behind DASH, so it’s also a viable option if you want to overhaul your menu.
3. MIND Diet
This diet is a Frankenstein amalgamation of both the Mediterranean and DASH diets with a focus on eating foods that ramp up brain health. So that means you’ll be chowing on plenty of leafy vegetables, berries, nuts, healthy oils, fish and wholegrains—all ingredients that have been shown to have a positive impact on your noggin.
What Is the Worst Diet?
Keep in mind that only 24 different diets were ranked, so this doesn’t mean that this diet represents the worst possible meal plan available. However, the raw food diet took a beating in the ratings, with the panel of experts awarding (or punishing) the meal plan with an abysmal score of just 1.7.
While they said the diet had its pros: namely, you didn’t have to worry about counting calories and that dishes were incredibly filling, the list of negatives included that it could be unsafe for some people, was questionable on a nutritional level and had little research to back up its health benefits.
Interestingly, the fabled Keto diet was not favoured by the panel, failing to impress most of this cast of doctors and nutritionists. The diet ranked 20th on the list with an overall score of 1.9 out of 5.
For the full rankings visit the US News & World Report comprehensive list right HERE.