Planning a health kick? Experts have ranked the best diets for 2021

Jan 09, 2021
The Mediterranean diet has impressed experts yet again! Source: Getty

With the holidays behind us and the delicious-but-fatty food from the Christmas-new year period consumed, now’s the perfect time to get your health in check and reassess the food you consume. But what should you be eating? And what’s the best diet to follow to leave you feeling happier and healthier, and maybe even help you lose a few extra kilos gained over the festive season?

Well, the US News and World may have the answers you’re looking for. It has released its annual diet round-up this week, ranking the top choices on their health and weight loss factors. And for the fourth time in a row the Mediterranean diet has come out on top.

Although there’s no firm definition of what a Mediterranean diet contains, some of its hallmarks include whole grains and legumes that have undergone little processing, a wide variety of fresh vegetables eaten every day, cold pressed extra-virgin olive oils, nuts and seeds, some fish, little red meat and dairy products, and low-to-moderate wine intake with meals.

This diet received a star rating of three out of five for weight loss in the recent report, 4.8 out of five in the healthy scale and an overall score of 4.2 out of five. It was also claimed to have other major health benefits that could impact your day-to-day life.

“The Mediterranean diet may offer a host of health benefits, including weight loss, heart and brain health, cancer prevention and diabetes prevention and control,” the report read. “By following the Mediterranean diet, you could also keep that weight off while avoiding chronic disease.”

Following closely behind were the DASH diet, designed to help treat or prevent high blood pressure, and the flexitarian diet, a mostly vegetarian style of eating, which tied for second place.

The DASH diet, which received a weight-loss score of 3.2, a healthy score of 4.8 and an overall score of 4.1, is based on the foods “you’ve always been told to eat”, such as fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy. These foods are all said to be high in blood-pressure-deflating nutrients, including potassium, calcium, protein and fibre.

Meanwhile, the flexitarian diet scored better on weight loss with 3.6, but slightly lower on health with 4.7. While this diet is primarily vegetarian, it does allow you to enjoy a beef burger every now and then when you have a craving, and is said to improve overall health by lowering the rate of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

The WW (formerly Weight Watchers) diet nabbed fourth place, while the Mayo Clinic Diet, a style of eating that focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats; MIND, a hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH diets; TLC (Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes), which aims to cut cholesterol; and Volumetrics, which focuses on low-calorie foods, all tied for fifth place.

Perhaps surprisingly for some, the keto diet didn’t perform well, placing 37th on the list. The high-fat, low-carb diet, which is designed to help you lose weight fast, was criticised for placing too much emphasis on fat-rich foods, with one expert saying, “this diet is fundamentally at odds with everything we know about long-term health”.

The fast diet, which follows a low-calorie plan and includes periods of fasting, also failed to impress. Experts said “its lack of guidance could result in poor food choices and overeating on non-fasting days”.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

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Do you have any health goals this year? What diets have worked for you in the past?

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