Mediterranean Diet Is Best Diet – Once Again

U.S. News ranks healthy diet as best in several categories

Mediterranean diet plate with vegetables, legumes and lean meats.

U.S. News ranks healthy diet as best in several categories

U.S. News & World Report recently weighed in on the best diets for 2024. The Mediterranean diet topped the scale as the best diet overall in the annual best diet rankings for the seventh consecutive year.

U.S. News also ranked the Mediterranean diet No. 1 in six other categories as best diets for diabetes, heart health, bone and joint health, healthy eating, easiest to follow and most family friendly.

The Mediterranean diet emphasizes eating less red meat, sugar and saturated fat and incorporating more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, legumes, olive oil, herbs and spices into your daily diet.

“It’s extremely delicious and easy to follow and get started. It is very sustainable,” says David Felix, MD, an internal medicine physician at Scripps Clinic Torrey Pines and a champion of the Mediterranean diet. 

What is the Mediterranean diet?

Dr. Felix is not surprised the Mediterranean diet ranks so high every year in so many categories and considers it a way of life. 

“The Mediterranean diet is not a fad,” he says. “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 focuses on primarily eating plant-based foods and is easy to follow for long periods of time.

This diet 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. 

Like other diets, it also emphasizes getting plenty of exercise, especially if the goal is losing weight.

Other proven diets

In addition to the Mediterranean diet, there are many other proven diets to choose from.

The DASH diet, known for fighting high blood pressure, is ranked No. 2 for Best Diet Overall by U.S. News.

DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension or high blood pressure. It is recommended by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to stop or prevent high blood pressure.

This diet 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 in saturated fat.

The MIND diet, which stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay is ranked No. 3 by U.S. News. This diet takes two proven diets and focuses on foods in each that target brain health to potentially lower the risk of mental decline.

Choose an eating plan wisely and remember the best diets are those that fit your lifestyle and that you can maintain for a long time.

Tips for maintaining healthy habits

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:

1. 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.

2. 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.

Remember that in order to reach your goal, it’s important to stay consistent with your exercise routine.

3. 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.

4. 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.

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