Each year, US News and World Report does an annual review of diets to determine which are the “Best Diets”.  They enlist a panel of medical and nutrition experts to review popular diet plans and eating styles and come up with a “best” list.

DASH Diet tied for #1 in the Best Heart Healthy Diets category, along with the Mediterranean and the Ornish Diets. Click To Tweet

The Panel reviewed 39 diets within 8 “Best Diet” Categories. Mediterranean and DASH Diet came out on top. Mediterranean Diet took the #1 spot in 6 categories (with DASH tied for 2 of them). A total of 39 diets were evaluated this year.

DASH Diet was ranked #1 for the BEST DIET for HEALTHY EATING category (tying with the Mediterranean Diet) and tied as #1 for BEST HEART HEALTHY DIET.

How are Diets Ranked?

US News enlists an Expert Panel  to perform an objective review of the diets using select criteria. These experts include those who specialize in areas such as diabetes, heart disease and weight loss, for example. Professions represented include a metabolic weight loss specialist, certified diabetes educators, registered dietitians, nutrition PhDs from university, preventive cardiology professor, epidemiologists and more.

The panel ranks the diets based on several criteria. They use a 1-5 scale (5 being best) to rank the diets, taking the following into consideration.

  • Short-term weight loss. What is the likelihood of losing significant weight during the first 12 months?
  • Long-term weight loss. What is the likelihood of maintaining significant weight loss for two years or more?
  • Diabetes. Is the diet effective for preventing diabetes or as a maintenance diet?
  • Heart. What is the effectiveness for cardiovascular disease prevention and as risk-reducing regimen for heart patients?
  • Ease of compliance. How does the diet rate for a feeling of fullness and taste appeal? Are there any special requirements?
  • Nutritional completeness. How nutritionally sound and complete is the diet? (based on conformance with the federal government’s 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a widely accepted nutritional benchmark).
  • Health risks. How do risks impact certain populations? For instance, malnourishment, overly rapid weight loss, or other contraindications, may post a risk.

Best in All Categories

  • Overall: #1 Mediterranean Diet, DASH and Flexitarian Diets tied for #2 (then Weight Watchers)
  • Heart Healthy: DASH ties with Mediterranean and the Ornish diet for #1 (Flexitarian and TLC diets $4 tie)
  • Diet for Healthy Eating: #1 DASH ties with Mediterranean Diet, #3 Flexitarian,
  • Easiest to Follow: #1 Mediterranean Diet, #2 Weight Watchers, #3 flexitarian (with MIND and DASH in #4 and 5)
  • Weight Loss: #1 Flexitarian tied with Weight Watchers, Vegan and Volumetrics tie for #3
  • Diabetes: #1Flexitarian, Mediterranean and DASH tied for #2
  • Commercial Diet Plan: #1Weight Watchers (WW), #2 Mayo Clinic Diet #3 Jenny Craig
  • Plant-Based: #1 Mediterranean, #2 Flexitarian, #3Nordic

You’ll find books about the top 3 diets at my Amazon Storefront (note: I get a small commission from purchases made from this link).

Realistic Changes

I’ve spent my entire career helping people understand that if a diet isn’t “doable” nobody can follow it. Without long-term adherence you won’t get health results. The diets were evaluated on both evidence and feasibility, which I was glad to see.

With any diet plan or dietary change, ask yourself: How long can I stay on this? Is it too restrictive? Consider your personal goals as you check out those categories on the US News list.  Several popular diets, like Paleo, Whole 30 and Keto for example, ranked low on the list (#31, #35 and #37 respectively). This may surprise you, but based on the evidence, nutrition and ease-of-compliance criteria, they scored low.

Most importantly, always check in with your doctor and dietitian before you make any significant dietary changes.