For the seventh year, U.S. News & World Report has named the Mediterranean diet the world’s best overall diet for 2024, giving it a higher rating than 29 other popular eating plans.
Since 2010, the digital media company, well-known for its comprehensive best and worst lists ranging from universities and hospitals to cars, has ranked diets based on the evaluation of its independent panel of 43 medical doctors, registered dietitians, nutritional epidemiologists and weight loss researchers.See Also:Health News
The panel cited the variety and flexibility of following the Mediterranean diet as one of the reasons for its consistently high performances in the rankings.
The experts added that the Mediterranean diet further differentiates itself from other diets due to its role as a lifestyle and culture rather than a restrictive eating program.
This is reflected in the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid published by the Spain-based Mediterranean Diet Foundation, which encourages daily consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains and some dairy with extra virgin olive oil serving as the primary source of fat.
Instead of prohibiting certain food groups, the Mediterranean diet recommends moderate weekly consumption of red meat, processed foods, eggs, sweets and alcohol.
Underpinning the effectiveness of the diet is an emphasis on regular physical activity, adequate rest, ample hydration, seasonal eating habits and social connection during meals.
The panel of experts also cited the robust body of scientific evidence linking adherence to the Mediterranean diet with a lower risk of dementia, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and lower incidence of several types of cancer, including bladder, breast and colorectal cancers.
Further research has demonstrated an eclectic range of other benefits of following a Mediterranean diet, such as preventing obesity and other cardiometabolic diseases, alleviating depression symptoms and improving oral health, among many others.
The influence of the Mediterranean diet on healthy eating was reflected throughout the U.S. News & World Report list, with the second spot going to the DASH diet and the third place going to the MIND diet, both of which are influenced by the Mediterranean diet.
Like the Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet emphasizes consuming fruits, vegetables and whole grains. However, it differs in its more regimented portion recommendations. Meanwhile, the MIND diet combines the DASH and Mediterranean diets.
Along with topping the overall list for best diets of 2024, the Mediterranean diet was also recognized by the report’s panel of experts in several subcategories, including the best diet for diabetes, the best diet for bone and joint health, the best diet for healthy eating, the best family-friendly diet, the best heart-healthy diet and the easiest diet to follow.
The expert panel also said the Mediterranean diet was the second-best weight loss diet (behind the WeightWatchers diet) and the second-best plant-based diet (behind the flexitarian diet).