U.S. News Best Diets of 2014

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U.S. News & World Report recently evaluated 32 of the most popular diets and, with input from a panel of health experts, identified the best.

Best diets

To be top-rated, a diet had to be meet several criteria: it had to be relatively easy to follow, nutritious, safe, effective for weight loss, and protective and against diabetes and heart disease. Here are the top five best overall diets.

DASH Diet

The government-endorsed Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) came in number one. DASH was developed to prevent and lower high blood pressure. The balanced diet emphasize the foods you’ve always been told to eat — fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy — while avoiding calorie- and fat-laden sweets and red meat, and cutting back on salt.

TLC Diet

Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) is a diet plan created by the National Institute of Health’s National Cholesterol Education Program. The low-fat diet aims to reduce high cholesterol. The key is cutting back sharply on fat, particularly saturated fat. Saturated fat (think fatty meat, whole-milk dairy, and fried foods) increases bad cholesterol, which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. That, along with strictly limiting daily dietary cholesterol intake and getting more fiber, can help people manage high cholesterol, often without medication.

Mayo Clinic Diet

With the help of Mayo Clinic’s unique food pyramid, which emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, the balanced Mayo Clinic diet helps you recalibrate how you eat, breaking bad habits and replacing them with good ones. The diet aims to teach you how to choose healthy foods and portions and to develop healthy lifestyle habits so that you can maintain a healthy weight for life.

Mediterranean Diet

Although people in the Mediterranean eat differently (Greeks eat differently than Italians, who eat differently from other people in other regions of the Mediterranean), the balanced diet is based on common principles. Together with physical activity, the Mediterranean diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, legumes, olive oil, and flavorful herbs and spices; eating fish and seafood at least two times a week; enjoying poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt in moderation; and saving sweets and red meat for special occasions. Red wine can be drank in moderation.

Weight Watchers

The Weight Watchers diet is based on the PointsPlus program, which assigns every food a value based on its protein, carbohydrate, fat, fiber, calories, and how hard your body has to work to burn it off. Foods that fill you up the longest “cost” the least, meaning they can be eaten more often, while foods that have the highest point values “cost” the most, meaning they should be eaten in small amounts or less often. Weight Watchers makes it easy to check the points value of what you’re eating: there’s a pocket guide, pocket calculator, and a PointsPlus database iPhone application.

Source: U.S. News & World Report

About the Author

Jenny Jessen is Principal at Highlight Health Media, which publishes Highlight HEALTH. She is also a senior writer at Highlight HEALTH.