Last week, U.S. News & World Report released their annual review of 38 popular diets and chose the best based on ease, nutrition, safety, and effectiveness.
The top ten best diets on the list are all safe, smart, and healthy eating plans.
This report can be used as a guide for choosing a plan that will work best with your lifestyle and goals.
I love the DASH (#1 overall) and Mediterranean (#4 overall) diets for their focus on balanced nutrition from whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and proteins including seafood, beans, nuts, and low-fat dairy.
Though they aren’t designed specifically for weight loss, most people find that they do lose weight when they follow these plans as they reduce their intake of higher-calorie processed foods. Both plans are excellent for improving heart health and reducing the risk of disease.
A newcomer to the list, the MIND diet (#2 overall), combines the DASH and Mediterranean diets with an emphasis on foods that impact brain health. This primarily includes whole plant foods such as leafy greens, nuts, berries, beans, and whole grains, while also including fish, olive oil, and wine. Several less-healthy groups of foods are limited (but not necessarily eliminated) – red meats, butter and stick margarine, cheese, desserts/pastries, and fried or fast foods.
Keep in mind that the MIND diet is a newer eating plan, so not as many resources such as cookbooks exist compared to DASH and Mediterranean diets.
Even if you don’t follow a named “diet,” you can still take steps to eat better in 2016 using these principles:
- Fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables and fruits. Produce should make up half of what we eat throughout the day. (Check out OHSU’s My Heart-Healthy Plate for more tips and details.)
- Cook at home more often, so you rely less on highly-processed convenience foods and dining out.
- Increase your intake of meatless meals (using beans, lentils, or tofu as the protein source) and fish.
- Swap refined grains for whole grains. Whole grains provide added nutrients and fiber and will keep you feeling satisfied longer.
- Cut back on (or eliminate!) sweetened drinks; stay hydrated with herbal tea, seltzer, or plain water.
Tracy Severson, RD, LD, is the dietitian for the Center for Preventive Cardiology at the Knight Cardiovascular Institute. She specializes in nutrition counseling for cardiovascular health and weight management.