Doctors, nutritionists, and dietitians rank the best diets annually in the US News and World Report (1). There are many factors that go into the rankings, such as your heart and diabetes scores, weight loss potential, ease of tracking, and the best plant-based diets. These different ratings are combined to provide your overall rating.
One of the first things you notice when reviewing the list is how fad diets are almost at the end. Here is a list of the five top and bottom diets:
The Fast Diet– Weak in dietary guidance when not fasting
Atkins– good for weight loss, not nutrition or heart health
Raw food–3rd in weight loss, but too hard to follow
Dukan–not tested with a bunch of rules
Paleo– untested and ignores certain food groups, difficult to follow
Diet board – (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) This started out to lower blood pressure, but ranks high for its safety, nutritional integrity, and prevention of diabetes and blood pressure.
TLC diet – (Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes) was created by the National Institutes of Health. It is described as a complete diet and is especially healthy for the heart. It’s a DIY diet so it just gets organized with meal planning.
Mayo Clinic – Developed in the clinic to make healthy eating a lifestyle. It has a great nutritional balance and safety, but not necessarily as a diet to lose weight.
Mediterranean diet – This diet contains many vegetables and fruits, olive oil, fish, nuts, and grains. It is a longevity diet, but not necessarily for weight loss.
Checkweigher – The only commercial diet in the top 5. It is a nutritionally sound diet that is easy to follow and is supported by a group to promote weight loss.
I found it interesting that cancer prevention was not included as part of the classification criteria, considering that it is the second leading cause of death in the US (heart disease is the first). A plant-based diet is good for cancer prevention like many of these, but you may want a more specific diet. For example, we know that onions, mushrooms, and cruciferous vegetables provide more protection against cancer than other vegetables. Therefore, it is better to adapt a specific diet for cancer than a good general diet.
After examining the details of these diets, I find that the DASH and Mediterranean diets are similar with their heavy emphasis on whole grains and vegetables. I personally follow the Mediterranean diet because I have a history of cerebrovascular (stroke) in my ancestry and I like the freedom it provides. I encourage you to also choose a diet based on your genetic predispositions. So, take a little time to find out your family medical history to help determine your direction. Make your diet specific to your genes. L. Johnson
(1) US News staff. Jan. 2015. “The best diets in general”. Retrieved September 14, 2015, from the website: health.usnews.com/best-diet/best-overall-diets