Experts' Pick For Best Diet Of 2021 Is No Surprise

For the fourth year in a row, U.S. News & World Report's top-ranked diet among a panel of experts in nutrition, food psychology, diet, obesity, heart disease, and diabetes is... the Mediterranean diet. The magazine's panelists rated it tops overall as well as being the easiest to follow. The experts also ranked the Mediterranean diet high for heart health, people with diabetes, and healthy eating.

The Mediterranean diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, olive oil, whole grains, beans, legumes, and nuts, with fish and other seafood recommended at least twice a week. The diet allows eggs, poultry, cheese, and yogurt in limited, moderate portions and uses red meat sparingly. It cuts down on sweets but says a glass of red wine with dinner is fine.

This is the 11th year for U.S. News & World Report's "Best Diets" rankings, which rates 39 diets on factors ranging from heart health to weight loss. Rounding out the top five diets on the U.S. News & World Report list are the DASH Diet, which fights high blood pressure; the flexitarian diet, which emphasizes plant-based protein along with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; the WW Diet (formerly Weight Watchers), which uses a point system for users to choose fewer calories, saturated fats, and sugars; and the Mayo Clinic Diet, which prioritizes fruits and vegetables.

The Mediterranean diet also may cut risk of depression

"There are no surprises about which diets perform well here, and that's because we all know which foods we're supposed to be eating more," Angela Haupt, the magazine's managing editor, told Good Morning America. "Across the board, the top diets overall allow for flexibility and some freedom."

Named after the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, the Mediterranean diet follows the principles of Greek, Italian, French, and Spanish cuisine and their most common foods. Because it's low in sugar, saturated fat, and red meat but high in produce, nuts, and other healthy foods, the Mediterranean diet may boost heart and brain health, control diabetes, and prevent cancer. The Mediterranean diet also is rich in anti-inflammatory foods, which may reduce the risk of depression (via Good Morning America).

The nonprofit organization Oldways of Boston, Massachusetts, created a Mediterranean Diet Pyramid in 1993 with the help of the Harvard School of Public Health and the World Health Organization to help consumers balance their plates. For those seeking a bit more variety, another eating plan that ranked high on the U.S. News & World Report list is the low-carb MIND diet, a hybrid of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet. The MIND diet may help brain health, emphasizing berries (especially blueberries) twice weekly, along with green leafy vegetables and other staples of both the Mediterranean and DASH plans.