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DASH Diet Rated Best Overall; Weight Watchers Best for Losing Weight

Jan. 4, 2012 -- Who isn't looking for a diet this month? Whether you're resolving to lose weight, eat healthier, or manage or prevent health problems, here's help.

Just out today: the U.S. News & World Report's Best Diets 2012, a rating of 25 different diet plans.

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And the winner is?

The DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), a plan to prevent high blood pressure, took the top spot in the best diets overall category.

Next were:

  • Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC), a diet that's high in fiber and low in fat, developed by the National Institutes of Health, took second place.
  • The Mayo Clinic Diet, the Mediterranean diet, and Weight Watchers tied for third place overall.

A panel of 22 experts also rated the plans six other ways, such as best diabetes diet, best commercial plan, and easiest diets to follow.

The entire list can be found at health.usnews.com/best-diet.

Best Diets: How to Use the Lists

"The diets near the top of the lists are sensible," says David Katz, MD, MPH, founding director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center and a panel member.

Those on the bottom? "Frankly, we are saying we wouldn't recommend you choose one of those," Katz says.

Diets on the bottom of the overall list include the Dukan Diet, a high-protein, low-fat, low-carbohydrate plan, and the Paleo Diet, which encourages eating like ancient hunter-gatherers, with fruits, vegetables, and animal proteins. Those diets tied for last place.

Still, if a patient asked him how to pick from the lists, Katz would say: "You're the boss. You're in the driver's seat. You can go shopping. I like the idea of empowerment."

Before choosing, think of your priority, says panel member Andrea Giancoli, RD, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Do you want most to eat better? Lose weight? Prevent or manage diabetes?

"We're so fixated on that New Year's resolution of losing weight, we lose sight of the big picture -- to be at a healthy weight and maintain the healthy weight and get the nutrition your body needs," says Giancoli, a Los Angeles dietitian.

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