US News & World Report ranked 40 diets from around the world. The #1 ranked diet was the DASH diet. The DASH diet took the #1 spot in the “healthy eating” and “heart healthy” categories, too. And on top of that, it made the top 10 for “best weight-loss diets”, “best diabetes diets” and “easiest diets to follow”
DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. This plan was first developed by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) in the 1990s as a way to fight high blood pressure, but secondary benefits have become apparent after 20 years.
“The DASH diet is so popular because it’s probably the most robustly researched diet out there, specifically when it comes to heart health,” says Mike Roussell, PhD, Men’s Health nutrition advisor.
Here’s the typical menu: Five daily servings of fruit, five daily servings of vegetables, two to three daily servings of low-fat dairy, roughly eight daily servings of whole grains, and protein from two daily servings of lean meats, along with five servings of beans, nuts and seeds a week. Your goal with DASH is to minimize your sodium intake to less than 2 300mg a day, and restrict added sugars and saturated fats – mostly from red meats.
The DASH diet tied for first place with the ever popular and Mediterranean diet, which is also founded on lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. The Mediterranean diet offers its own slew of benefits, like improving your brain health and heart disease risk.
However, this way of eating does place a heavier emphasis on fish, fat in the form of olive oil and the occasional glass of wine. It doesn’t really prescribe a serving count, either. Instead, the Mediterranean diet offers a pyramid-like approach: Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and olive oil are at the base of every meal, fish comes in next at two servings per week, while poultry and dairy are consumed more moderately.