U.S. News’ annual Best Diets list is out for 2013, and for the first time, it includes a Best Plant-Based Diets section. Rankers cited their increasing popularity and evidence of their healthfulness for garnering their own category.
The online news magazine defined a plant based diet as one that emphasizes minimally processed foods, mostly plants, some low-fat dairy, fish, lean meat, and very little red meat. They named eleven plant-based diets as top picks for how well participants lost weight, got good nutrition and found the diet easy to follow.
Although both the Vegan and Vegetarian diets made the list, neither was in the top three spots. The Macrobiotic Diet was in tenth place, and the Raw Food Diet barely scraped by in rankings, coming in last on the list. Lesser-known diets such as the Ornish, Engine 2 and Eco-Atkins diets were also evaluated, with over 20 experts in medicine and nutrition giving them their honest opinions.
The number one spot for plant-based diets went to The Mediterranean Diet, scoring four out of a possible five stars overall. This was enough to also put The Mediterranean Diet as the third best diet overall in the rankings. Experts said it was nutritionally sound, extremely safe, great for heart health and health problems in general, and moderately easy to follow. The balanced diet gets its inspiration from those living close to the Mediterranean Sea, who generally lead healthier lives than Americans. Whole grains, olive oil, fruits and vegetables, lots of seafood and red wine are staples of the diet.
The Flexitarian Diet nabbed the next spot on the list. It stands for flexible vegetarian, and its aim is to cut out most meat from the diet while still indulging every once in awhile. Although it may require some adjustment, like regularly incorporating tofu into your meals, it emphasizes adding healthy foods to your diet, not restricting foods, and is a good way to safely lose weight.
The Ornish diet, in third place, surfaced both on the Best Plant-Based Diets list as well as picking up the first place for the Best Heart-Healthy Diet. Although the Raw Food Diet didn’t score well overall, it tied with the Biggest Loser and Jenny Craig diets for second place as the Best Weight-Loss Diets.
In the Best Diets Overall list, plant-based diets appeared four times in the top ten rankings. Experts recognized that diets cutting out most meats high in saturated fat and processed foods have lots to offer nutritionally. They offer short and long-term weight loss, are helpful to diabetics and for cardiovascular health, and, although they may take some getting used to, most are easy to follow. This new section on U.S. News’ and other publications’ diet rankings appears to be here to stay, as the popularity of plant-based diets will likely only increase.