Even though the DASH Diet originally was developed to fight high blood pressure, the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension eating plan claimed the top overall spot in U.S. News and World Report’s annual Best Diets rankings for the fifth year in a row.
U.S. News evaluated and ranked 35 popular diets in terms of ease to follow, nutrition, safety and effectiveness for weight loss and protection against heart disease.
Overall, DASH is the top diet because of its “nutritional completeness, safety, ability to prevent or control diabetes, and role in supporting heart health,” said the U.S. news panel. The diet is heavy on whole grains, vegetables, which are rich in fiber, calcium, protein and potassium, which help prevent and lower high blood pressure.
What to eat on the DASH diet: vegetables, whole grains, fruits, low-fat dairy and lean protein. Avoid sweets and red meat; cut back on salt.
The other top-rated eating plans were:
TLC Diet: Created by the National Institutes of Health, the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) diet asks eaters to choose a target calorie level to achieve their health goals (for instance, 1,200 calories for women to lose weight), then cut saturated fat to less than 7 percent of daily calories. You’ll eats lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish and nonfat dairy.
Mayo Clinic Diet: Aims to recalibrate 15 key eating habits with the help of the Mayo Clinic’s unique food pyramid. There’s no calorie counting or off-limits foods in the two-part plan – “lose it” and “live it.” It focuses on helping eaters understand how many calories they need to lose or maintain weight, and which foods are the most healthful sources of those calories.
Mediterranean Diet: Heavy on fruits and vegetables, fish and olive oil, the Mediterranean Diet helps eaters lose and maintain weight by eating fish and seafood at least a couple of times a week, and by saving red meat and sweets for only special occasions.
Weight Watchers: It won the “weight loss” category, and rates high overall because it’s easy to follow, nutritious and safe. Group support and learning how to occasionally indulge are also pluses.