Each year in January, the United States News & World Report announces its verdict on the best diet in the world.
In 2020, for the third consecutive year, it defined the Mediterranean diet the best. The Mediterranean diet – though not a diet as such, but more a lifestyle – focuses on consuming less red meat, sugar and saturated fat while making an effort to include more nuts and whole grains. This diet, along with an active lifestyle, they say, can garner a long list of health benefits including weight management, heart and brain health, cancer prevention and diabetes prevention.
The Mediterranean diet also took first place in the other four categories of the report: the best diet for healthy eating, the easiest diets to follow, the best diets for diabetes, the best plant-based diets.
Kim Pearson, nutritionist and slimming specialist, says Standard, “The Mediterranean diet is based on whole and natural foods. Traditional Mediterranean diets focus on locally produced seasonal products, which are typically rich in nutrients and minimally processed. Don’t be fooled into thinking that a Mediterranean diet is all pasta and pizza! The diet focuses on many fresh vegetables, lean proteins from sources including fish, seafood and eggs and healthy fats – nuts, seeds and of course high quality olive oil. “
Other diets that appear in the top 5 were the DASH diet and the flexible diet in second place. The DASH diet is announced for its ability to promote healthy blood pressure and is made up of many vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and low-fat dairy products, discouraging saturated fat, whole milk and sugar. The Flexitaria Diet is all about eating as much as possible a vegetarian diet with some meat allowed when craving strikes.
Completing the top 5 is Weight Watchers; the MIND diet, which is essentially a combination of Mediterranean and DASH diets that revolves around foods for the brain to prevent dementia, such as whole grains, berries, green leafy vegetables, olive oil, poultry and fish; the Mayo Clinic diet, a balanced diet plan designed by the Mayo Clinic; and the volumetric diet that focuses on low energy density foods.
In the Best Weight Loss Diet category, weight watchers claimed the best position, with a vegan diet in second place. About WW, the report says: “Although I am still used to losing weight, WW (formerly Weight Watchers) also focuses on inspiring healthy living and improving overall well-being. This includes adopting a holistic approach to help members eat healthier and move more. His new myWW program, launched in late 2019, is the most personalized and flexible program ever. “
Regarding the vegan diet, the team of experts said: “There is a good chance that you will lose weight with the vegan diet. Research shows that vegans tend to eat less calories, weigh less and have a lower body mass index ( a measure of body fat) compared to their meat-eating counterparts. If you are doing it right, that is, eating lots of fruit, vegetables and whole grains, you will probably feel full of fewer calories than you can afford each day. With that ” calorie deficit “and some physical activity, you’re bound to lose pounds.”
At the bottom of the list were restrictive diets such as Dukan, Keto and Whole30. The high-fat, low-carbohydrate keto diet is effective for short-term but too extreme weight loss; the Dukan diet was considered to have too many rules; and Whole30 involves cutting alcohol, sugar, cereals, dairy products and legumes for 30 days.
To develop the dietary rankings, U.S.News brought together a group of experts, including nutritionists and doctors specializing in diabetes, heart health and weight loss. The panel then assessed each diet in seven areas, including ease, long and short term probability of losing weight, and effectiveness in preventing diabetes.
“Whether you are looking to lose weight or improve heart health, diets are not suitable for everyone. The 2020 Best Diets rankings provide consumers with the information and data they need to make an informed decision to help them, along with the contribution from their doctor or other medical professionals: choose the plan that’s right for them, “said Angela Haupt, director of health at US News. “In-depth coverage of diets allows consumers to narrow down their options and make a choice that reflects their lifestyle, personal preferences and overall goal.”
5 ways to embrace the Mediterranean diet
Kim Pearson has these tips:
1. Eat lots of vegetables – at least five servings per day. It’s a good idea to aim for three servings of vegetables or salad for both lunch and dinner (breakfast though you can!). Think of trays of roasted Mediterranean vegetables, ratatouille, fried vegetables, curries, soups and stews.
2. Eat fish and seafood regularly, including oily fish. Try to get wild (and sustainably caught) fish from farmed fish, such as farmed salmon. Seafood such as mussels grown on rope are particularly good as they are one of the most sustainable animal proteins.
3. Use good quality extra virgin olive oil. Olive oil is a key component of the Med diet and offers numerous health benefits. It is anti-inflammatory, provides antioxidants and has heart health benefits. However, try not to overheat the olive oil as this can compromise its benefits.
4. Choose minimally processed foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. Check the list of ingredients: a good rule of thumb is: the less ingredients, the better. Instead of using store-bought multi-ingredient sauces, add flavor to foods using herbs, spices, black pepper and lemon juice.
5. It is also worth mentioning that in traditional Mediterranean cultures, people take time to eat and concentrate on their meals. We often eat hastily at our counters in front of the computer or while browsing social media. If you can, take some time to enjoy your meals with friends, family or colleagues. Eat slowly, chew carefully and enjoy every bite.