U.S. News & World Report has named the Mediterranean diet the best overall diet for the fifth year running.
The panel of 27 scientists, physicians and nutritionists also confirmed the Mediterranean eating plan as the best plant-based diet, the best diet for healthy eating and the most useful diet to combat and prevent heart disease and diabetes.
This style of eating can play a big role in preventing heart disease and stroke and reducing risk factors such as obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
The panel of experts concluded that the MedDiet stands out among the 40 most relevant and well-known diets, including DASH, MIND, vegetarian, Nordic and Weight Watchers.
The experts concluded that the MedDiet provides “a host of health benefits, including weight loss, heart and brain health, cancer prevention and diabetes prevention and control.”
They added that people in Mediterranean countries live longer and suffer fewer cardiovascular diseases than most Americans partially due to the popularity of the MedDiet and its unique qualities.
Still, the panel emphasized that there is not a single Mediterranean diet.
“Greeks eat differently from Italians, who eat differently from the French and the Spanish,” they wrote. “But they share many of the same principles.”
Those principles have long been framed by the Boston non-profit organization Oldways.
In collaboration with experts from the World Health Organization and the Harvard School of Public Health, Oldways has created the MedDiet Pyramid, which graphically demonstrates the daily servings of vegetables, fruits, herbs, whole grains, nuts and healthy fats, such as olive oil.
The MedDiet also includes fatty fish or seafood with dairy and eggs twice a week. Poultry should be consumed occasionally, while servings of red meats and sweets should be infrequent.
According to the U.S News & World Report expert panel, the MedDiet is also among the most balanced diets since it provides plenty of protein, carbohydrates, fats and relevant micronutrients.
The DASH diet finished in second place for the best overall diet listings and was praised for its completeness, safety and role in supporting heart health and fighting diabetes.
It shared the second spot with the Flexitarian Diet, which emphasizes the consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grains with an emphasis on most plant-based proteins with some wiggle room for the occasional burger or steak “when the urge hits.”
“I think it’s important to note that the top three diets… all offer variety, flexibility and few, if any, rules,” Gretel Schueller, the managing editor of health for U.S. News & World Report, told CNN.
“All the diets that perform well are safe, sensible and backed by sound science,” she added. “The diet winners also all provide adequate calories with a focus on vegetables, fruits and whole grains, a modest amount of lean protein, dairy and an occasional treat.”
The American Heart Association (AHA) has also officially recommended following the Mediterranean Diet.
“This style of eating can play a big role in preventing heart disease and stroke and reducing risk factors such as obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure,” the AHA said. “There is some evidence that a Mediterranean diet rich in virgin olive oil may help the body remove excess cholesterol from arteries and keep blood vessels open.”
The AHA has also stressed how a healthy diet may also prove essential to “improve your ability to think, remember and process information as you age.”
The AHA researchers also emphasized how “in one study, the healthiest eaters at age 50 had a nearly 90-percent lower risk of dementia compared with those who had the least healthy diets. The Mediterranean and DASH diets have been proven to boost brain health as well as improve heart health.”
By Paolo DeAndreis
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