For the fourth year in a row, the Mediterranean diet continues to be named the best overall diet, according to U.S. News & World Report’s annual ranking.
The Mediterranean diet — which consistently is backed by studies that have found a correlation with decreased risk of disease — also nabbed the No. 1 spot for best diets for healthy eating, easiest diets to follow, best diets for diabetes, best plant based diets and best heart-healthy diets.
The diet focuses on heart-healthy foods that typically are eaten in countries within the Mediterranean region. It guides people to eat plenty of plants and foods that are low on “bad” cholesterol, such as legumes, nuts, wheat, fruits and veggies. For example, you replace butter with healthy fats like olive oil, salt with herbs and spices, red meat with fish and poultry.
And it’s totally cool with this diet to have a glass of red wine on occasion.
In one of the largest and longest studies that looks at the diet’s effect on gut bacteria, published in February 2020 by the British Medical Journal Gut, researchers found that the Mediterranean diet could have a positive effect within just one year for older adults by reducing the “bad” bacteria and increasing the “good.”
In second place behind the Mediterranean diet, the DASH and flexitarian diet tied for Best Overall Diet. The DASH diet — short for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension — is the government-backed plan aimed at helping followers lower their blood pressure. The flexitarian diet is a modified vegetarian diet in which you still can eat animal products in moderation.
With the COVID-19 pandemic upending our lives, some turned to social media to joke about the “quarantine 15” after reaching for comfort food during times of uncertainty and stress.
Dr. David Katz, one of the panelists who weighed in on the diets says that, though COVID-19 has been “overriding health concern for this past year,” it’s important to remember that a healthy diet “not only influences everything about our health over a lifetime, but it acutely affects the function of our immune system and exerts an outsized influence on risk factors related to COVID.”