What’s the best diet overall?
Low-fat. Low-carb. Paleo. Keto. Calorie-counting. Macrobiotics. What works? What’s safe? What’s realistic?
How about the diet consistently ranked best overall by the U.S. News & World Report and their panel of health experts?
Every year, U.S. News grades 40 or so diets on nutrition, ease to follow, safety, weight loss and protection against diabetes and heart disease.
Two diets consistently rank highest:
- Eight-time champion, the DASH diet
- The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet was originally developed by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to help lower blood pressure without medication, but emphasizes nutritious foods from all 5 food groups, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy.
- New champion, the Mediterranean diet
- This centuries-old diet based on cultures surrounding the Mediterranean Sea has pulled ahead in the rankings the last couple of years, landing the spot of #1 Best Diet Overall again in 2021.
Striking a Healthy Balance
Both diets are recognized for their heart-health benefits, plant focus and ease to follow. And both have been neck-and-neck in the rankings – in fact they tied for first place in 2018. Whether your choice is Mediterranean, DASH, or one of the other healthy eating patterns recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, such as MyPlate, the smart choice seems to be a healthy balanced diet that includes foods from all 5 food groups.
Research Says Mediterranean Is Missing One Thing
The Mediterranean diet only recommends one or two servings of dairy foods every day – but DASH and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend three servings.
Why? Dairy is the number one source of three of the nutrients most Americans are missing: calcium, vitamin D and potassium. A recent study analyzed a Mediterranean diet with added dairy versus a traditional low-fat control diet. The dairy-enriched Mediterranean diet lowered blood pressure and improved cholesterol, all while meeting calcium recommendations!
Sounds like a winner.