America’s 8 favorite diets from shedding pounds to improving fertility and which you should follow

It’s a centuries-old diet – and, yet again, crowned the healthiest one you can follow by a panel of experts.

For the second year in a row, Mediterranean diet took the top spot in the US News & World Report’s annual ranking of diets by nutrition and fitness experts.  

Always a popular choice, the diet is hailed for its emphasis on plant-based foods, whole grains, lean protein and olive oil.  

It also came first in categories of easiest diet to follow, best diets for eating and tied for best diets for heart health.

Meanwhile the DASH diet – designed to lower blood pressure – which was tied with the Mediterranean diet after eight years of earning the number one slot, came in second for the first time in the ranking’s history.  

The most common New Year’s resolution, according to Statista, is to go on a diet whether it’s to eat healthier, lose weight or prevent dementia.

The report looked at 41 diet plans across nine categories and selected the top pick for various goals whether it be to get pregnant or lower your risk of heart disease.

The Mediterranean diet was named the best overall diet out of 41 diet plans in an annual ranking from US News & World Report

The Mediterranean diet was named the best overall diet out of 41 diet plans in an annual ranking from US News & World Report

1. BEST DIET OVERALL…

Mediterranean Diet

The diet combines the eating habits of countries that border the Mediterranean Sea – mainly Spain, France, Italy, and Greece. It is marketed as an eating pattern rather than a structured diet.

The diet encourages followers to eat less red meat, sugar and saturated fats and to load up on produce, whole grains, lean protein and nuts.

Dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt – as well as alcohol – are allowed but in moderation.

A bean salad with tomatoes and cucumbers, tossed with feta cheese and fresh herbs, accompanied by a glass of white wine is a typical lunch dish.

Celebrity chef Rachael Ray has credited the Mediterranean diet with helping her lose weight and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Actress Penelope Cruz also attributed the diet of her native Spain as she how she reached her goal weight four months after giving birth to her son Leo in January 2011. 

The Mediterranean diet follows the eating patterns of countries that border the Mediterranean Sea - specifically Spain, France, Italy and Greece - and encourages followers to load up on produce, whole grains, lean protein and nuts

The Mediterranean diet follows the eating patterns of countries that border the Mediterranean Sea – specifically Spain, France, Italy and Greece – and encourages followers to load up on produce, whole grains, lean protein and nuts

2. BEST COMMERCIAL DIET FOR WEIGHT LOSS…

WW (Weight Watchers) Diet 

Weight Watchers, which rebranded last year as WW with a focus on lifestyle and Wellness, is a lifelong diet.

Followers can lose up to two pounds a week and, once your goal weight is reached, your aim is to maintain that weight.

The diet does not count calories but uses the Freestyle program for the foods eaten throughout the day, assigning each food a number of points based on their nutritious value.

Users can eat whatever they want as long as they stick to their daily SmartPoints target – a number based on sex, age, weight and height.  

Oprah Winfrey has spoken many times about how WW helped her lose and keep off more than 40 pounds and, last month, actress Kate Hudson was named the company’s latest ambassador.

Hudson, who gave birth to daughter Rani Rose in October, said she plans to use WW to shed the 25 pounds she gained since her pregnancy.

The WW (Weight Watchers) diet does not count calories but uses a program that assigns each food a number of points based on their nutritious value

The WW (Weight Watchers) diet does not count calories but uses a program that assigns each food a number of points based on their nutritious value

3. IF YOU WANT TO LOSE WEIGHT FAST…

HMR Diet

The HMR Program (Health Management Resources) is a low-calorie plan with meal replacement shakes that encourages eating plenty of fruits and vegetables.

HMR recommends meal replacements in the form of low-calorie shakes, meals, nutrition bars and multi-grain hot cereal.

By mixing vegetables and fruits with HMR meal replacements, the user will likely have filling, nutritious meals.

Physical activity is also encouraged on the HMR program – even as little as 10 to 20 minutes of walking per day.  

The HMR Program encourages meal replacements in the form of low-calorie shakes, meals, nutrition bars and multi-grain hot cereal

The HMR Program encourages meal replacements in the form of low-calorie shakes, meals, nutrition bars and multi-grain hot cereal

4. BEST DIET FOR DIABETES…

DASH Diet 

DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is a lifelong diet designed to prevent or lower high blood pressure, or hypertension. 

The DASH diet encourages reducing sodium and eating vegetables, fruits and low-fat dairy foods – and moderate amounts of whole grains, fish, poultry and nuts.

Followers are encouraged to limit foods that are high in saturated fat such as red meats and full-fat dairy as well as sugar-sweetened drinks.

A typical dinner dish could consist of roasted chicken breast, a baked potato and a side of spinach.  

The standard DASH diet suggests no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day, but users can follow a lower sodium option with a 1,500 milligram recommendation. 

Exercise is also recommended on the DASH diet, with followers encouraged to aim for 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week such as 30-minute brisk walk five days a week. 

DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is a lifelong diet designed to prevent or lower high blood pressure, or hypertension, by reducing sodium and eating vegetables, fruits and low-fat dairy foods

DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is a lifelong diet designed to prevent or lower high blood pressure, or hypertension, by reducing sodium and eating vegetables, fruits and low-fat dairy foods

5. IF YOU WANT TO EAT PLANT-BASED…

Nordic Diet 

The Nordic diet meshes the traditional eating habits of Scandinavian countries including Denmark, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. 

Similar to the Mediterranean diet, it is marketed as a lifestyle rather a traditional weight-loss diet.

Users are encouraged to eat seasonal, locally-sourced food including fruits and vegetables, whole grains and seafood.

Discouraged products include sweets, red meat, additives, preservatives and processed foods.

A typical snack could be smoked salmon on top of a whole grain cracker with cucumber dill yogurt.

A 2017 study from the University of Iceland showed the Nordic diet protected against metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions – including high blood pressure, excess body fat, and high cholesterol – that occur together and raise the risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke. 

The Nordic diet follows the traditional eating habits of Scandinavian countries including Denmark, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden and is based on eating seasonal, locally-sourced food

The Nordic diet follows the traditional eating habits of Scandinavian countries including Denmark, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden and is based on eating seasonal, locally-sourced food

6. IF YOU WANT TO IMPROVE YOUR HEART HEALTH…

Ornish Diet

The Ornish diet was created by Dr Dean Ornish, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, in the early 1990s.

The aim of the diet varies from losing a few pounds to lowering blood pressure, but the best-known goal is helping to reverse heart disease.

The diet categorizes food into five groups from ‘healthiest’ (group one) to ‘least healthy’ (group five).

Only 10 percent of calories can come from fat, and very little of it can be saturated.

Foods with any cholesterol and refined carbohydrates as well as all animals products are banned.

High-fiber foods, such as potatoes, and complex carbohydrates, such as beans, are encouraged on the diet.

The Ornish diet was developed in the early 1990s and is meant to reverse heart disease with high-fiber foods such as potatoes

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs went on the diet following his cancer diagnosis

The Ornish diet was developed in the early 1990s and is meant to reverse heart disease with high-fiber foods such as potatoes. Steve Jobs went on the diet following his cancer diagnosis

Although it’s veggie-based, it’s not vegan because Ornish dieters are allowed to eat egg whites and one cup per day of non-fat milk or yogurt.

The diet also recommends exercise through aerobics and resistance training combined with stress management techniques such as yoga or meditation. 

Following his cancer diagnosis, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs adopted the Ornish diet. He frequented a vegetarian restaurant in San Francisco that served dishes that fit in with the diet.  

7. IF YOU WANT TO GET PREGNANT…

Fertility Diet

The aim of the fertility diet is to increase ovulation and improve the chances of getting pregnant.

The eating plan is based on research from the Nurses’ Health Study, which investigates the risk factors for chronic diseases in women.

There are 10 steps when it comes to the diet, although women are encouraged to add more as they feel comfortable:

First is to cut out trans fat, second is to consume more unsaturated vegetable oils and third is to incorporate more vegetable proteins in your diet, but less animal protein.

The fourth and fifth steps are to eat eat slowly-digested carbohydrates and to choose full-fat dairy over low-fat products. 

The sixth and seventh steps are to take a multivitamin that contains folic acid and other B vitamins, and to up iron intake either from foods or from supplements.

The eighth step requires women to cut out soda and drink plenty of water. Caffeine is also allowed.

The ninth and tenth steps are to achieve a healthy body mass index and to boost fitness levels.   

The aim of the fertility diet, which is a 10-step plan based on research from the Nurses' Health Study, is to increase ovulation and improve the chances of getting pregnant

The aim of the fertility diet, which is a 10-step plan based on research from the Nurses’ Health Study, is to increase ovulation and improve the chances of getting pregnant

8. IF YOU WANT TO PREVENT DEMENTIA…

MIND Diet

The goal of the MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet is to eat brain-healthy foods, lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s.

Developed by Dr Martha Clare Morris, a professor of epidemiology at Rush University in Chicago, Illinois, the diet takes the Mediterranean and DASH diets and focuses on the foods that affect brain health.

Namely, followers can eat from 10 brain-healthy food groups: green leafy vegetables in particular, all other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and wine.

Foods to be avoided are: red meats, butter and stick margarine, cheeses and desserts and fried or fast food.

A 2015 study funded by the National Institute on Aging found the diet lowered the risk of Alzheimer’s in those who somewhat followed the diet by 35 percent and in those who strictly followed it up to 53 percent. 

The goal of the MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet is to eat brain-healthy foods, lowering the risk of Alzheimer's

The goal of the MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet is to eat brain-healthy foods, lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s

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