As obesity and diabetes rates continue to climb, we’re bombarded by oftentimes contradictory diet advice, from switching out refined grains for whole wheat to abandoning carbs altogether, it can be almost impossible to decipher the sound advice from the useless fads. The U.S. News & World Report’s panel of health experts has released its annual list of popular diet trends. The list ranks diet trends by healthfulness and effectiveness. Surprisingly, both paleo and Whole30, arguably two of the most popular diet trends this year, ranked close to the bottom of the list at numbers 36 and 38 respectfully.
The paleo diet, to jog your memory, is a nutritional lifestyle that attempts to emulate the diet of the Paleolithic-era humans: focusing on meat, vegetables, and fruit, while completely eliminating grains and dairy. The Whole30 diet, meanwhile, has dieters go on a food “cleanse” for 30 days and free themselves from poor eating habits. That means no sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, or dairy with no exceptions, snacks, or cheat days.
These diets received low scores because, while they are associated with weight loss, their restrictiveness leads to yo-yoing after the 30 days or paleo binge have ended. According to the list, scientists have generally given carb-avoidant diets mixed reviews. Plus, ditching several major food groups from your everyday eating habits means you have attain some pretty strong willpower.
By contrast, the top two diets were MIND and DASH. MIND stands for Mediterranean DASH-Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, and the idea is to eat your way to better cognitive brain health. MIND focuses on vegetables, especially green leafy ones, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil, and wine. It suggests avoiding (though doesn’t necessarily restrict entirely) red meat, butter, cheese, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food. DASH is the original diet from which MIND was derived and focuses on eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, poultry, and fish, while staying away from sodium and processed foods. The non-restrictive qualities of both DASH and MIND make them easier to stick with in the long-run, while still maintaining a balanced, conscientiously healthy lifestyle.