Science-backed Mediterranean food named best diet for 2023

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The gold medals are piling up. For the sixth consecutive year, the mediterranean eating style won the title of best overall diet, according to the 2023 rankings announced Tuesday by US News & World Report. Meals from the sunny Mediterranean also took first place in the food categories. best diet for healthy eating and best plant based diet said the report.

In two new categories added for 2023, Mediterranean Diet tied with Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) for lowering cholesterol and flexitarian diets as the best family diet, and Dietary Approaches to Hypertension Management (DASH, in English) for the best diet for bone and joint health.

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“We are always looking for more health conditions that we can address. But there’s often not enough scientific data examining diet X and condition X,” said Gretel Schueller, managing health editor for US News & World Report, who oversees the annual diet ranking.

“However, bone and joint health is an area where there is a good amount of scientific literature,” said Gretel. “We also recognize that our population is aging, so focusing on diets that can enhance quality of life among older individuals is an important element.”

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Also new this year: Reviewers ranked only 24 diets instead of the 40 or so diets reviewed in recent years. Five diets from the original list – vegetarian, vegan, Nordic, traditional Asian and glycemic index – were integrated by judges into Mediterranean and other diets due to their underlying plant-based principles.

“The take-home message here is the recognition that the Mediterranean diet is really not just about the foods around the Mediterranean,” said Gretel. “You can learn the lessons and approach of the Mediterranean food pattern and apply it to any cuisine in any country.”

That approach is reflected in two new diets — Keyto and Pritikin — that have been added to the 2023 review, Gretel said. (Yes. That’s Keyto with a Y.)

“We recognize that more and more people are eating a type of diet that favors plants or plant-based foods, or at least trying to,” she said. “Keto with a Y diet should be a flexible, low-carb Mediterranean plan.”

“The Pritikin diet focuses on eating whole foods that are low in fat and high in fiber and is very flexible,” she added. “We’re seeing a push to eat more whole, unprocessed foods, which I think is great.”

What is a Mediterranean style of eating?

Numerous studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of diabetes, high cholesterol, dementia, memory loss, depression and breast cancer. The diet, which is more of an eating style than a strict diet, has also been linked to stronger bones, a healthier heart and a longer life.

The diet features simple, plant-based cooking, with most of each meal focused on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and seeds, with some nuts and a heavy emphasis on extra virgin olive oil. Fats other than olive oil, such as butter, are rarely, if ever, consumed, and sugar and refined foods are reserved for special occasions.

Red meat is used sparingly, usually just to add flavor to a dish. Eating oily, healthy fish, which are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, is encouraged, while eggs, dairy and poultry are eaten in much smaller portions than in the traditional Western diet.

Social interactions during meals and exercise are basic pillars of the Mediterranean style of eating. Lifestyle changes that are part of the diet include eating with friends and family, socializing during meals, mindfully eating favorite foods, as well as mindful movement and exercise.

second and last place

As they did in 2022, DASH and the flexitarian diet tied for second place for the best overall diet. Similar to the Mediterranean style of eating, these diets reduce or eliminate processed foods and emphasize the need to fill your plate with fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, whole grains, nuts and seeds.

The DASH diet emphasizes limiting salt intake in its goal of lowering blood pressure, while the flexitarian diet, true to its name, allows for an occasional indulgence of meat or poultry.

A panel of 33 experts examined the top diets and classified them into several categories: the diet included all food groups; it was evidence-based; necessary foods available in any supermarket; how easy the diet is to prepare, and whether additional vitamins or supplements were used.

“We focus on quality over quantity,” Schueller said. “Our reviewers feel that there are some diets that are so crazy they aren’t worth wasting their time on, like the Dukan diet, which we no longer rate.”

O worst diet award went to this year’s raw food diet at least in part due to the lack of nutritional integrity which raised concerns of safety among reviewers. Since followers can only eat unprocessed foods that have not been cooked, microwaved, irradiated, genetically modified, or exposed to pesticides or herbicides, the analyzes consider the diet almost impossible to follow.

The popular ketogenic diet, along with the modified ketogenic diet, ranked 20th out of the 24 diets, followed by Atkins, SlimFast, and Optavia. These diets emphasize eating foods high in protein or fat with minimal carbohydrates and receive low ratings because they are extremely restrictive, difficult to follow, and eliminate entire food groups.

Despite the low overall rating, reviewers gave the diet the top spot as the best diet for short-term weight loss, Schueller said, quickly adding that such diets are not considered a healthy lifestyle.

“These are the diets for someone who has a wedding or event they want to go to in the next few months,” she said. “Are you going to lose weight in the short term? Certainly. Are you going to keep it for the next two years? Probably not”.

more winners

In the best diet for (long-term) weight loss category, WW (formerly called Weight Watchers) took first place, with DASH and TLC tied for second place. WW also received the award for best diet program (commercial), followed by NOOM and Jenny Craig.

Flexitarian and TLC shared gold in the easiest-to-follow diet category, while Mediterranean and DASH diets tied for third.

The DASH diet received top honors as the best diet for heart health and for people with diabetes, followed by the Mediterranean, Flexitarian, and Ornish diets. The Ornish diet was created in 1977 by Dr. Dean Ornish, founder of the nonprofit Preventive Medicine Research Institute in California.

The Ornish Diet is combined with stress management techniques, exercise, social support and smoking cessation and, according to Ornish, is the only scientifically proven program to reverse heart disease without drugs or surgery.

Source: CNN Brasil

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