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Mediterranean or Whole30? Which Is the Best Diet to Start 2018

Holiday Spiral Ham DinnerHoliday Spiral Ham Dinner

Does your New Year’s resolutions list include losing weight, getting more in shape, or just eating better overall? Well, health experts have weighed in on the best diets for 2018, ranking popular diets like the Mediterranean diet, DASH diet, Keto diet, and others in a list for U.S. News & World Report.

Here’s what they have to say.

Best diets overall

Overall, the most endorsed diets were the government-supported Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, the Mediterranean diet, the Flexitarian diet, and the Weight Watchers diet.

So just what do those diets consist of? The DASH diet is a fairly common sense one—it involved a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy. Things to keep in check? Salt, foods high in saturated fats, artificially sweetened or high-sugar content food and drinks.

The Mediterranean diet mimics the eating habits of that region, with an emphasis on fish and seafood, leafy greens, nuts and legumes, and low in red meat, carbs like sugar, and saturated fat. Finally, the Weight Watchers diet is the highest-ranking commercial diet on the list, outscoring competitors like Jenny Craig and Flat Belly; the system assigns point values to food with the goal of promoting weight loss (the Flexitarian Diet is another fruit, vegetable, and whole grain-oriented diet that also relies on plant-based proteins rather than meat).

Best diets for weight loss

Different diets have different uses. And the U.S. News rankings has helpful sections for people who may be trying to lose weight, simply eating healthy, or trying to control a chronic health condition like diabetes.

For instance, the Weight Watchers diet tops the weight loss list, followed by the Volumetrics diet (a “volume”-based eating regimen that focuses on “low-density” foods that provide plenty of energy but via fewer calories). Such diets could help people lose as much as a pound or two per week.

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Best diets for heart disease and diabetes

Several of these weight loss diets are also good for your cardiovascular health. But what if you’re diabetic or at risk of developing diabetes?

According to experts, the Mediterranean and DASH diets are the best for preventing or controlling diabetes. Flexitarian, the Mayo Clinic diet, and vegan diet also rank highly on that list. In general, the Mediterranean diet comes with a slew of endorsements for its potential to lead to better heart health and possibly reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Diets you should think hard about

You may have noticed the aforementioned diets don’t include some more popular ones, such as the Keto diet or the Paleo diet. In fact, the Keto diet has an overall score of just 1.9 out of 5, or tied for last place on the list at #39. This carb-slashing, fat burning diet may be effective for some; however, it also comes with risks, particularly for those with certain medical conditions. “The Keto diet isn’t for everyone, as Dr. Josh Axe pointed out in a largely favorable U.S. News article published in April 2017. Pregnant or nursing women, underweight people, women with a history of eating disorders or anyone with heart disease who hasn’t first consulted a doctor should avoid the diet,” reads U.S. News’ list. It can also be risky for people with diabetes since their glucose and insulin levels would need strict monitoring.

The Paleo diet is number 32 on the overall list with a score of 2.3 out of 5. There is some controversy surrounding the scientific rationale of eating like our ancient ancestors—i.e., animal proteins and plants, the kinds of foods and that would be amassed by a hunter-gatherer society. The efficacy of the Paleo diet is also intimately linked to the type of meats you eat. After all, processed foods like bacon and other red meats aren’t necessarily great substitutes for bread and starchy products.

Two other diets to approach skeptically? The Dukan diet and the Whole30 diet, which the experts labeled as lacking scientific evidence of efficacy and as being entirely too restrictive to be healthy.