- A plant-based diet, such as the DASH or the Mediterranean diet, may significantly contribute to a healthy weight loss and overall well-being.
- DASH and Mediterranean diets primarily consist of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meats, low- or no-fat dairy and promote the consumption of nuts, seeds, and legumes (beans). They largely avoid fats and sweets and favor moderate portions.
- Top diets include the DASH diet, the Mediterranean diet, and the MIND diet, as ranked by experts in the U.S. News & World Report.
- DASH diet ranks top due to its rigorous research and testing by the U.S. National Institutes. The strong evidence for DASH and its applicability to real-world families put it ahead of other diets.
- Complementing a good diet with adequate exercise is essential for optimal health as food is the fuel for the body, and physical activity should be part of a healthy routine.
A new study suggests that adopting a plant-based diet may significantly aid in healthy weight loss and overall well-being. This study adds more credibility to the rising popularity of plant-based diets such as the acclaimed DASH diet.
DASH, an acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, continues to hold its title as the optimal diet plan year after year, closely followed by the Mediterranean diet. Initially recommended to combat high blood pressure, the DASH diet, similar to other plant-based diets, offers an array of other health advantages.
What Do These Plant-Based Diets Encompass?
Plant-based diets like DASH and the Mediterranean diet mainly revolve around whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meats (such as poultry and fish), low- or no-fat dairy, and also advocate the consumption of nuts, seeds, and legumes (beans).
These holistic diets suggest abstaining from most fats and sweets, and encourage moderate portions, thereby leading to an overall healthier and well-rounded meal plan, explained Dr David Katz, President of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine.
He rejects the notion of a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach when it comes to dieting, stating that the best diet is the one suitable to an individual and their specific lifestyle. Choice and flexibility, in his opinion, are important determinants of dietary success.
Diet Ranking by U.S News & World Reports
Following the DASH and Mediterranean diets in effectiveness is the MIND diet. This distinctive diet combines aspects of both the DASH and Mediterranean diets and is deemed instrumental in delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
The MIND diet is closely trailed by the Flexitarian diet, Mayo Clinic Diet, TLC diet, and Weight Watchers, all tied in fourth place.
In a comprehensive list published by U.S. News & World Report, 38 diet plans were ranked by experts in the nutrition, dietary consultation, and medical fields, who evaluated each program’s ease of adhere, weight loss efficiency, and effectiveness against diabetes and heart disease.
Why DASH Diet Scored Top Marks
So what led to the DASH diet securing first place? Its extensive research and testing by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. Dr. Katz opined, “The evidence for DASH is stronger than it is for some of the other diets, and it includes foods that are familiar to most Americans and can work for real families in the real world.”
Alongside diet, adequate exercise is paramount for achieving optimal health, added Dr Katz. “Food is the fuel for the body — it’s crucial for your health over a lifetime. But combining it with exercise is also crucial,” he said. “You are never going to be as healthy as you could be if routine physical activity is not a part of your life.”
Reevaluating Weight Loss Methods
Emphasising on the importance of long-term healthy eating patterns rather than temporary, restrictive diets, Samantha Heller, an exercise physiologist and senior clinical nutritionist, reiterated the merits of plant-based diets like the DASH, Mediterranean and vegetarian diets.
These diets, she explained, offer evidenced health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease, dementia, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. “Take time to adopt new ideas, such as having meatless meals like a hearty vegetable and bean soup, pasta with roasted red pepper sauce, or peanut butter and apple slices. Keep a daily food record on an app or in a notebook. Seek support and guidance from qualified practitioners such as registered dietitians,” she advised.
For more details, consider visiting the diet rankings by U.S. News & World Report.