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This Is the Most Effective Diet for Living Longer, Says New Report

January 4, 2024

At this point, there are a few things that have become a bit obvious when it comes to dieting: fad diets aren’t great for our health, and speedy weight loss doesn’t last. While the idea of a “quick fix” diet seems enticing, promising that you’ll drop a particular number of pounds in a matter of days or weeks, they aren’t actually conducive to creating healthy long-term success. When it comes to eating and living in a way that perpetuates living a long, healthy life, fad diets rarely make the cut—especially when you take a look at where they rank among the rest.

Every year, the U.S. News and World Report releases a series of lists looking at the best diets to follow for that year, and 2023’s winner comes as no surprise at all—given that it continually wins the top spot year after year. According to the report, the Mediterranean Diet was rated the best diet overall when compared to 24 other popular eating plans, making it the most effective way to eat for long-term health in 2023.

How the diets were ranked

The goal of this report every year is to provide the effectiveness of each popular diet out there so consumers can make educated decisions on what type of healthy eating plan they would like to follow. This year, U.S. News & World Report evaluated 24 different eating plans by combing through medical journals, government reports, and other resources, as well as a slew of in-depth survey results from respected medical professionals such as doctors, dietary nutritionists, nutritional epidemiologists, and weight-loss researchers.

They asked key questions to evaluate the efficacy of each diet: Are all food groups included, or is restriction involved? Does the diet require supplements of any kind? Are nutrient-rich foods emphasized? Is the weight loss timeline realistic, and is weight maintenance included in the plan? Are the foods easily available to grab? What does the research show about how this diet affects particular aspects of one’s metabolic health?

After months of considering diets and research, the report concluded that the Mediterranean Diet is yet again the most successful diet for all aspects of one’s health. Unsurprisingly, many of the popular fad diets glorified by health gurus online ranked at the bottom of the list—like keto, paleo, and the raw food diet. While some did rank high for weight loss, these diets continually ranked low for other important long-term health categories, like the best diets for heart health or diabetes.

The Mediterranean Diet continues to rank as the best

While the report doesn’t exactly have a list of the best diet for “living longer,” given the ways the Mediterranean Diet is highly successful in a majority of the categories, it’s inferred that this particular way of eating does benefit one’s health long term.

The Mediterranean Diet follows the traditional way of eating for the countries that border the Mediterranean Sea. They primarily focus on plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and nuts. Olive oil is a staple for cooking and dressing foods, full of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Seafood and lean poultry are eaten semi-regularly, while foods high in saturated fat and added sugars—such as red meat, dairy, and sweets—are limited, but not entirely avoided. This way of eating is also popular within the Blue Zones, the regions of the world known for having the densest population of people living to be over 100.

Along with being rated the Best Diet Overall, the Mediterranean Diet was rated first for Best Plant-Based Diet, Best Diet for Bone and Joint Health, Best Family-Friendly Diet, and Best Diet for Healthy Eating. It also ranked second for Best Heart-Healthy Diets and Best Diabetes Diets, while also snagging the third spot for Easiest Diets to Follow.

As for weight loss, the diet ranked fifth for Best Weight Loss Diets and 21 for Best Fast Weight-Loss Diets. But this is only further proof that fast weight loss does not equate to long-term health success, hence why many popular fad diets ranked low across the board.

Other healthy diets to follow

While the Mediterranean Diet was ranked the best of the best, two diets actually came in a close tie for that second spot: The DASH Diet and the Flexitarian Diet.

The DASH Diet focuses on stopping hypertension and improving heart health, hence why it won as the Best Heart-Healthy Diet to follow. The DASH diet focuses on foods that emphasize nutrients known to lower blood pressure thanks to potassium, calcium, magnesium, and fiber. These foods include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy. Foods higher in saturated fat are limited or avoided altogether, in an effort to keep the heart healthy and blood pressure low.

The Flexitarian Diet received its name for being “flexible” and “vegetarian.” It makes following a vegetarian lifestyle a bit more approachable for anyone looking to eat more of a plant-forward diet. Also known as “semi-vegetarian,” this diet focuses on eating more plants and less meat, with a heavier focus on beans, peas, and eggs. It ranked first for the Easiest Diets to Follow, and tied in first with the Mediterranean Diet for the Best Family-Friendly Diets.

You can take a look at the full report here.

Read more: An Easy & Flavorful 5-Day Mediterranean Diet Meal Plan

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