Top-rated Diets Earn Dietitian Approval

Watch a Healthy Minds, Health Bodies presentation about the Mediterranean Diet.

Some things are too good to be true. Like miracle diets.

Luckily, there are nutrition plans with foods that taste good, are good for us and get results.

Each year, the U.S. News & World Report releases its list of the best diets rated by health experts. The rankings help people make more informed choices.

Melissa Myton, RDN, LD, clinical dietitian at Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital reviewed the 2024 list. Overall, she agrees with the recommendations with one major caveat.

“It’s good to talk to a member of your care team with a nutrition background before starting any diet, no matter what you might hear or read about it,” Myton said. “Everyone is so individual on their goals, nutrition needs, cultural background and accessibility.”

Myton shared her general dieting guidance and recommendations.

Mediterranean Remains No. 1 Overall

For the seventh-straight year, the best overall diet was the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, olive oil and seafood.

“We talk a lot about the Mediterranean diet with patients,” Myton said.

Following the Mediterranean diet has been associated with a decrease in overall mortality.

Myton said two of the biggest benefits of the Mediterranean diet are it is adaptable and not restrictive.

For example, some people have a seafood allergy or do not like fish. That does not mean they cannot follow the Mediterranean diet.

“Sometimes, people get caught up feeling like they have to follow a diet precisely,” Myton said.

The Mediterranean style diet can be used as a structure where all cultures and dietary preferences can fit. The website Oldways Cultural Food Traditions offers more information and recipes following the African Heritage Diet, Latin American Diet and Asian Heritage diet.

Another top diet Myton frequently refers to patients is the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), a heart-healthy way of eating that includes lots of fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy, whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, seeds and nuts. 

She also recommends a dietary approach that did not make the list called MyPlate, a visual reminder to make half your plate a variety of fruits and vegetables.

Fast Weight Loss Diets Are Not Sustainable

The top diets for short-term weight loss (three months or less) were Keto, Atkins and the Health Management Resource (HMR) program.

The trick to rapid weight loss with these diets is restricting carbohydrates.

“Carbohydrates get demonized in the media,” Myton said. “Our society gets really caught up in these diets and it starts to get portrayed that carbohydrates are bad for us.”

Myton agrees with limiting simple carbohydrates, such as soda, cookies, crackers, chips and pastry. But complex carbohydrates like whole grains have nutritional value and health benefits, including fiber, which may support lower unhealthy cholesterol levels. Also with restrictive diets, there can be a concern with getting adequate nutrients like vitamins and minerals.

In general, Myton urged caution with these diets.

“Restricting food is just not sustainable,” Myton said.

The Keto diet was created for children with epilepsy when other treatments were not working. It is not often meant to be used long term, Myton said.

Other Considerations for Dieting

Eating is not just something that we do to keep us healthy. It is something we should enjoy, especially when we are spending time with family and friends.

“Eating is a part of our daily life,” Myton said. “One of the hardest parts is finding a dietary pattern that works for you. Choose a diet you can follow and enjoy.”

For help choosing a diet that is right for you, Samaritan hospitals offer nutrition services, which can be covered by insurance.

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