A diet you’ve probably never heard of has been ranked named Best Overall Diet by US News & World Report: DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension).
Scientists at the National Institutes of Health actually developed the DASH to lower blood pressure, but US News’s panel of 22 experts liked its “nutritional completeness, safety, and ability to prevent or control diabetes.” Though not specifically designed for weight loss, the DASH diet could trim waistlines. And the guidelines are easy to follow, too: Eat fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins, and cut back on salt.
The idea is that if you’re eating the right kinds of foods, you’ll get nutrients like fiber, potassium, calcium, and protein that fight high blood pressure and, when consumed in the right proportions, could help you drop some pounds. The DASH guidelines, which help you determine how many calories you should consume based on age and activity level, are here.
The three diets that share the second-place spot in the overall rankings are Weight Watchers (“a smart, effective diet”), the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes diet (“good at promoting cardiovascular health”), and the Mediterranean diet (“eminently sensible”). Weight Watchers took the top spot in two subrankings: the Best Commercial Diet Plans and the Best Weight-Loss Diets.
In all, the US News team evaluated 20 diets, including well-known names like Jenny Craig (#7) and Slim Fast (#10). The South Beach Diet came in at #13 because “its restrictions make it difficult for dieters to keep the pounds off.” The protein-heavy Atkins diet was ranked at #19—it lost points for poor marks in long-term weight loss, nutrition, safety, and heart health.
Dead last? That’d be a diet called the Paleo Diet, one that encourages adherents to cut out processed, carb-heavy foods and return to the eating patterns of our hunting-and-gathering ancestors—namely, animal protein and plants. US News says its experts “took issue with the Paleo Diet on every measure.” Under the health-risks section, experts note that “by shunning dairy and grains, you’re at risk of missing out on a lot of nutrients. Also, if you’re not careful about making lean-meat choices, you’ll quickly ratchet up your risk for heart problems.”
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