Ranking the Top Diets for Americans

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WASHINGTON, D.C.—The beginning of a new year has many Americans rethinking their eating habits, vowing to lose weight and make health a priority, but with so many diets to choose from, which is best?

To provide a guide for consumers, U.S. News published its best diets of 2013 rankings. Utilizing a panel of diet and nutrition experts, 29 diets were analyzed and scored based on parameters including how easy it is to follow, how well it conforms to current nutrition standards, health risks it may pose and its soundness as a diabetes and heart diet. The options were sorted into eight categories, and ranked accordingly.

Best Overall/Best for Healthy Eating

U.S. News had identical results in the best overall diet and the best diet for healthy eating. In both cases, the top spot went to the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet. Originally formulated to lower hypertension, the DASH diet scored high among the U.S. News experts for heart health and lowering blood pressure, as well as nutritional completeness and safety. In the number two spot on the lists was the Therapeutic Lifestyles Changes Diet (TLC), which scored well for ability to cut cholesterol, overall safety and nutrition, and ease of following.

Best Weight-loss Diet

Weight Watchers ranked number one in the weight loss category. Experts support the diet's claim for delivering fast results that are likely to be obtained with the help of the program's support system. Weight Watchers emphasizes a balanced diet, focusing on nutritionally dense, low-calorie foods.

The Biggest Loser, Jenny Craig and The Raw Food Diet tied for second place. The Biggest Loser diet integrates the importance of eating regular meals consisting of healthy fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains with portion control and exercise. The Jenny Craig diet focuses on losing weight by restricting calories, fat and portions. Experts applaud the diet's ability to teach proper portion size and gave high ratings for both, short-term and long-term weight loss capability. The Raw Food Diet eliminates eating foods that have been cooked, processed, irradiated, genetically engineered, exposed to pesticides or herbicides or that are microwavable; research shows those who follow this diet typically eat few calories and weigh less than other dieters.

Best Diabetes Diets

The Biggest Loser diet and DASH Diet were the top choices in the best diabetes diet category. The diets' guidelines resemble the widely accepted nutritional guidelines for those with diabetes.

Best Heart-Healthy Diets

The Ornish diet took the number one spot for heart health, with a version of the plan actually developed to reverse heart disease. Coming in second place was the TLC diet, which is designed to cut cholesterol and improve heart health. Experts say the diet is an excellent way to prevent and treat heart disease.

Best Commercial Diet Plans/Easiest to Follow

The top diets in these categories were identical. Experts placed Weight Watchers in the number one spot for top-rated commercial diets and easiest to follow, as dieters receive adequate calories for weight loss without eliminating favorite foods, and receive emotional support. In second place on both lists was Jenny Craig, which impressed panel experts with the diet's ability to deliver weight loss, maintain safety and follow easily with home-delivered, prepackaged meals.

Best Plant-based Diets

U.S. News experts gave the Mediterranean diet the number one spot in the newly added, best plant-based diet category. The diet focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, olive oil, herbs and spices. In second place, the Flexitarian diet reflects the combination of its name—flexible and vegetarian. Dieters focus on meat substitute options like tofu, beans, lentils, peas, nuts and seeds without have to completely eliminate eating meat. Eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy and spices are also emphasized.

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