Figuring out which diet is best for you can be overwhelming. Are you trying to lose weight or eat healthier? Protect your heart or look good in a swimsuit? And, it seems like everyone has an opinion on what you should eat and what you should cut out.
Thankfully, U.S. News & World Report put together a handy guide for all the best diets of 2017. In addition to ranking the best and worst overall-performing diets, they also rated diets by category—they’ve got rankings for the best weight-loss diets, diabetes diets, heart-healthy diets and tons of others.
Here’s the skinny (pun intended!) on the 2017 rankings.
The best overall diets were:
1. DASH Diet
For the seventh straight year, the DASH diet received the highest marks in the U.S. News & World Report overall diet rankings. The goal of this plan is to prevent and lower high blood pressure by eating foods high in potassium, calcium, protein and fiber. It’s a pretty simple formula: Eat more fruits, veggies, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean protein. Eat less red meat, high-calorie foods and salt. It was also ranked No. 1 on the best diabetes diets list and No. 1 for healthy eating.
2. Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean Diet moved up a few spots in this year’s rankings to No. 2. This diet isn’t really a traditional diet, but rather an eating pattern established by people who live in countries near the Mediterranean Sea. The gist of this diet is fairly simple—lead an active lifestyle, eat less red meat, sugar and saturated fat and eat more produce and nuts. Some of the benefits of eating this way include weight loss, heart health, cancer prevention and diabetes control. The Mediterranean Diet was also tied at No. 2 on the best diabetes diet list and came in at No. 1 for best plant-based diets.
3. MIND Diet
Developed by a nutritional epidemiologist at Rush University Medical Center in 2015, the MIND Diet aims to prevent Alzheimer’s disease by encouraging followers to eat brain-healthy foods, such as green leafy vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, chicken and fish. This diet wants you to avoid red meat, butter and margarine, cheese, pastries, sweets and fried foods. The plan is rooted in science—one study found that the MIND diet reduced the risk of Alzheimer’s by 35 percent for people who followed it moderately well and 53 percent for those who stuck to it rigorously.
Curious about which diets performed the worst this year? The plans that received low marks from U.S. News & World Report all had one thing in common: They were super restrictive and hard to follow.
- The popular Whole30 diet came in at No. 38, the very bottom of the list this year, because it requires followers to completely cut out sugar, artificial sweeteners, alcohol, grains, legumes and dairy for 30 straight days. No cheating allowed, or you have to start your 30 days again.
- The Dukan diet was ranked No. 37, next to last, because of its hard-to-follow rules and complete ban on certain foods, like grains and fruits.
- The “throwback” Paleo diet, in which followers eat like their Paleolithic ancestors did, came in at No. 36. U.S. News & World Report’s expert panel gave this diet low marks for being extremely hard to follow and for cutting out entire food groups, such as dairy and grains.