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DASH Diet Ranked Best Overall -- Once Again

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WebMD Health News

Jan. 7, 2014 -- Just in time to help us with those New Year’s weight loss goals, the new annual ‘‘best diets'' list is out from U.S. News & World Report.

Once again, the tried and true plans won over fad diets to receive top spots on the experts' lists. The DASH diet repeats as best diet overall. It was originally developed by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to prevent high blood pressure. It stresses eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains while eating less salt.

Weight Watchers got top honors for best weight loss diet, best commercial diet plan, and easiest-to-follow plan.

The 2014 version of the report evaluates 32 diet plans in multiple categories. The categories are:

  • Best overall
  • Best weight loss
  • Best diabetes
  • Best heart-healthy
  • Best for healthy eating
  • Best commercial
  • Best plant-based
  • Easiest to follow

DASH also took the top spot for best diabetes diet (a tie with the Biggest Loser diet) and best for healthy eating.

For heart health, the Ornish diet, a low-fat approach similar to the DASH diet, took first place. The Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes fruits, grains, vegetables, olive oil, and other healthy foods, took first place for the best plant-based diet.

Tied for last place overall were the Paleo diet and the Dukan diet. The Paleo suggests ''eating like a caveman" -- meat, fish, poultry. But it's not feasible for modern times, the experts say. Dukan emphasizes protein, and experts call it restrictive, even ''idiotic."

The diet rankings are based on reviews of the 32 diets by a panel of experts in diet, nutrition, diabetes, weight loss, and heart health.

The report wins approval from Connie Diekman, RD, director of university nutrition for Washington University in St. Louis. She reviewed the findings but was not involved in the report.

"The diets topping the charts focus on health, nutritional needs, and palatability -- factors that are essential to maintaining eating plans that will meet individual needs," she says.

Stressing those factors, she says, emphasizes the importance of a diet as a lifestyle, not a quick fix.

Ranking the Diets

The experts rated the diets for short-term and long-term weight loss, how easy they are to follow, and safety and nutrition. They also considered how well each diet could help prevent and control diabetes and heart disease.

Cost was not a factor they looked at.

The experts' evaluations were converted to scores and then stars. One star was lowest, five highest.

Here are more details on the rankings for best overall and best weight loss diets.

Best Overall Diets

1. DASH diet (4.1 stars): The experts like its overall nutrition, safety, and ability to control or prevent diabetes and help heart health. See the plan here. 

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