U.S. News & World Report recently weighed in on the best diets for 2018. Topping the scale on its annual rankings were the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet, which tied for No. 1 as the best diets overall and best diets for healthy eating.
Both diets also rank as the easiest to follow, which means they are the easiest to stick with and gain results. “The key points to a good diet are consistency and sustainability,” says David Felix, MD, an internal medicine physician at Scripps Clinic, Torrey Pines and a champion of the Mediterranean diet.
The DASH diet is often recommended to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and has been ranked No. 1 by U.S. News for eight consecutive years. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension or high blood pressure. It emphasizes eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and low-fat dairy foods and limiting salt, sugary drinks, sweets and foods that are high on saturated fat.
The Mediterranean diet ranked No. 1 for the first time and is another heart healthy diet known for helping to reduce the risk of heart disease. It also ranked as the best diet for preventing or controlling diabetes and best plant-based diet.
Dr. Felix said he is not surprised the Mediterranean diet ranked so high.
“It’s extremely delicious and easy to follow and get started,” says Dr. Felix. “The Mediterranean diet is not a fad. People who live in Italy, Spain, and other countries in the Mediterranean region have eaten this way for centuries. It’s just a way of life. I grew up on it. My blood pressure is fantastic.”
Based on Mediterranean-style cooking, this diet emphasizes eating primarily plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and seeds. It stresses eating fish and seafood at least a couple of times a week, consuming poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt in moderation and limiting sweets and red meat for special occasions. It also gives priority to healthy fats such as olive oil over butter and using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods.
Both diets emphasize getting plenty of exercise if the goal is losing weight.
While the Mediterranean diet is getting a lot of attention, there are many proven diets to choose from. Just remember the best ones are those that fit your lifestyle and that you can maintain over the long-term.
Diets still take some work. The following are tips to keep you on a healthy path and move the needle on your scale in the right direction:
- Slow down. When one eats quickly, one tends to eat more. So eat mindfully, chewing every bite 15 to 20 times and enjoying the taste, smell and texture of your food. Another way to slow down is to eat with your non-dominant hand. This will definitely slow you down.
- Drink, then eat. Water can help curb an appetite. People often mistake thirst for hunger, and reach for a snack when a glass of water will do.
- Move around. If the goal is to lose weight, this requires burning calories through exercise. It doesn’t have to be strenuous exercise either. Dr. Felix recommends trying a free pedometer app, such as Stepz, and setting a goal of 10,000 steps a day, if possible.
- Get a scale and use it. It’s been shown that people can benefit from weighing themselves regularly. The idea is to spot trends and make adjustments as needed.
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