In 2019, we saw the rise of numerous diet trends, like keto, intermittent fasting, and plant-based.
Lots of people start off the year with a resolution to eat healthier, lose weight, and get in shape. But with so many diets out there, it can be difficult to know which plans deliver real results.
Interest in the Mediterranean diet began in the 1960s with the observation that coronary heart disease caused fewer deaths in Mediterranean countries, such as Greece and Italy, than in the U.S. and northern Europe. Subsequent studies found that the Mediterranean diet is associated with reduced risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
The Mediterranean diet is one of the healthy eating plans recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans to promote health and prevent chronic disease.
It is also recognized by the World Health Organization as a healthy and sustainable dietary pattern and as an intangible cultural asset by the United National Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
It focuses on mimicking how our pre-agricultural, hunter-gatherer ancestors ate as closely as possible, using foods available now. Followers say it will help minimize your risk of chronic disease (based on the premise that those ancestors didn’t suffer from the ones we now face) and lead to weight loss.
Eating high-quality meats and fish with tons of veggies and no processed foods is basically a great formula for weight-loss and long-term health. However, too much of anything is…too much…and with all grains, beans, and dairy off the table, Paleo eaters often end up leaning way too heavily on meat.
The style of eating comes from Japan and emphasizes a mindful, seasonal approach to food. Drawing on Chinese concepts of yin and yang, each plate is balanced: For example, food from the sea should be served alongside food from the land. While that sounds heady, it ends up meaning you basically eat lots of bowls of fresh vegetables and whole grains, with some fish, beans, and seaweed thrown in.
There’s nothing inherently unhealthy about the macrobiotic diet, so if you think it might work for you, there’s no danger in giving it a shot. Just pay attention to how much protein you’re getting. However, if you love your morning coffee with a hearty scramble, there’s no reason to give either up. This diet takes a lot of healthy (or at least harmless) foods off the table, and that can make it harder for people to stick to the plan, especially without amazing flavors that satisfy your palate.
The DASH Diet, which stands for dietary approaches to stop hypertension, is promoted by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to do exactly that: stop (or prevent) hypertension, aka high blood pressure. It emphasizes the foods you’ve always been told to eat (fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy), which are high in blood pressure-deflating nutrients like potassium, calcium, protein and fiber. DASH also discourages foods that are high in saturated fat, such as fatty meats, full-fat dairy foods and tropical oils, as well as sugar-sweetened beverages and sweets. Following DASH also means capping sodium at 2,300 milligrams a day, which followers will eventually lower to about 1,500 milligrams. DASH Diet is balanced and can be followed long term, which is a key reason nutrition experts rank it as U.S. News’ Best Overall Diet, tied with the Mediterranean Diet.
The name of this diet is a marriage of two words: flexible and vegetarian. The term was coined more than a decade ago. Flexitarian Diet: The Mostly Vegetarian Way to Lose Weight, Be Healthier, Prevent Disease and Add Years to Your Life, you don’t have to eliminate meat completely to reap the health benefits associated with vegetarianism – you can be a vegetarian most of the time, but still chow down on a burger or steak when the urge hits. By eating more plants and less meat, it’s suggested that adherents to the diet will not only lose weight but can improve their overall health, lowering their rate of heart disease, diabetes and cancer, and live longer as a result.
The Nordic diet was specifically designed to revolutionize Nordic cuisine and improve public health. Nutritional scientists based at Denmark’s University of Copenhagen teamed up with a co-founder of the world-renowned restaurant Noma for this multiyear project. Known as the Nordic diet or New Nordic Diet, it incorporates aspects of Scandinavian tradition and culture. The Nordic diet calls for a lifestyle that embraces a return to relaxed meals with friends and family, centered on seasonal, locally sourced foods, combined with concern for protecting the environment.
These 10 concepts underlie the Nordic diet: Eat more fruits and vegetables every day. Eat more whole grains. Include more foods from the seas and lakes. Choose high-quality meat – but eat less meat overall. Seek out more food from wild landscapes. Use organic produce whenever possible. Avoid food additives. Base more meals on seasonal produce. Consume more home-cooked food. Produce less waste.
The MIND diet takes two proven diets – DASH and Mediterranean – and zeroes in on the foods in each that specifically affect brain health, which may lower your risk of mental decline, according to initial research. And though there’s no surefire way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, eating healthful mainstays such as leafy greens, nuts and berries may lower a person’s risk of developing the progressive brain disorder. The MIND diet, which stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, was developed by Martha Clare Morris, a nutritional epidemiologist at Rush University Medical Center, through a study funded by the National Institute on Aging and published online February 2015. The study found the MIND diet lowered Alzheimer’s risk by about 35% for people who followed it moderately well and up to 53% for those who adhered to it rigorously. And while more study is still needed to better understand the long-term impact of the diet, her team’s second paper on the MIND diet notes that it’s superior to the DASH and Mediterranean diets for preventing cognitive decline.