2018 brought us many wellness fads, including the keto and carnivore diets, intermittent fasting, carb cycling and more. But according to new data released by U.S. News and World Report, one regimen reigns superior. The Mediterranean diet, which focuses heavily on fruits, vegetables and fish, has been named the best for 2019 by a panel of health experts who confirm it’s easy to follow, nutritious and effective for weight loss and preventing diabetes and heart disease.
To follow the Mediterranean diet, one must eat a mostly plant-based diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts. Replace butter with healthy fats like olive or canola oil, use herbs and spices instead of salt, limit meat consumption to just three times a month tops and have some fish and poultry a couple times each week. You can have red wine in moderation if you’d like, but you must get plenty of exercise and enjoy meals with family and friends.
That doesn’t sound so bad, but why was it named the best of the bunch? Last year’s ranking showed the Mediterranean diet tied with the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet (also known as DASH), the government-backed plan that emphasizes foods low in sodium but rich in potassium, magnesium and calcium — all of which help lower blood pressure. Because of new research regarding the Mediterranean diet, such as findings that it could lower the risk of dementia and aggressive prostate cancer, it took the lead for 2019.
According to the Mayo Clinic, additional studies have found that the diet reduces the risk of heart disease by lowering the level of oxidized low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, which, in layman’s terms, is bad because it can build deposits in your arteries. The Mediterranean diet has also been associated with a reduced risk of cancer and Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. In a nutshell, eating under these guidelines could help you live a longer and healthier life.
As far as the rest of the ranking goes, the DASH diet finished in second, followed by the flexitarian diet (eating mostly plant-based foods but meat and other animal products in moderation), the MIND diet (a mix between DASH and Mediterranean targeted toward brain health) and Weight Watchers. Thanks to science, times have certainly changed since your parents tried these old-school (though often misguided) diet tips.