For seven years running, the Mediterranean diet has been voted the finest diet.
The second-best diet was the DASH diet, which is used to help control high blood pressure. The third-best diet was the MIND diet, which combines elements of the DASH and Mediterranean diets with an emphasis on foods that support brain function.
The top two heart-healthy diets were also identified as the DASH and Mediterranean diets, respectively.
Why are these diets the most effective for 2024? To find out more, Medical News Today spoke with three medical professionals.
The best diet overall is the Mediterranean diet
The Mediterranean diet has garnered a lot of attention in the past ten years because, according to Dr. Cheng-Han Chen, a board-certified interventional cardiologist and medical director of the Structural Heart Program at MemorialCare Saddleback Medical Center in Laguna Hills, California, people who follow this diet seem to have fewer chronic health problems and increased lifespan.
“I think that’s how it got popular, but it is true,” Dr. Chen explained to MNT. “A lot of the principles in the Mediterranean diet are heart healthy, such as basing it on more plant-based foods, whole grains, nuts, (and) healthy monounsaturated fats, and avoiding saturated fats, too much sugar.”
Following the Mediterranean diet has also been linked to lowering a person’s risk for certain diseases, including:
- diseaseTrusted Source
- type 2 diabetes (T2D)Trusted Source
- depressionTrusted Source
- Alzheimer’s disease (AD)Trusted Source
- prostate cancerTrusted Source
Registered dietitian nutritionist Monique Richard, owner of Nutrition-In-Sight and national media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition Dietetics, told MNT that the Mediterranean diet is more of a dietary pattern and lifestyle than a set type of “diet” with regard to amounts, portions, or numerical goals.
“The flexibility and basic tenets fit many individuals’ lives, goals, and needs, and it is sustainable for the long-term, enjoyable, and beneficial — a recipe for long-term success.”
“The Mediterranean dietary pattern is also less restrictive and rigid. It highlights the benefits of wine, of various healthy fats, and really brings together the social and joyous aspects of meals shared, pleasures of the senses in cooking, tasting, and creating nurturing combinations that many individuals feel are taken away ‘on a diet,’” Richard added.
The DASH diet is good for your heart
In order to assist reduce high blood pressure, the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH for short, was created in the 1990sTrusted Source.
“The main difference between this and the other diets is that it not only emphasizes fruits and vegetables but also puts a lot of emphasis on the amount of sodium intake,” he continued. “So they really try to limit the amount of sodium, and we know that excess sodium intake can lead to high blood pressure that’s hard to control.”
According to a September 2021 study, the DASH diet lowers blood pressure, waist circumference, and lipid levels in hypertensive individuals.
“The DASH diet’s effectiveness in supporting heart health stems from its emphasis on fruits, vegetables, legumes, low fat dairy, whole grains, and nuts,” Catalina Ruz Gatica, registered dietitian nutritionist at Top Nutrition Coaching, told MNT.
According to Ruz Gatica, the DASH diet’s ingredients result in a dietary pattern that is high in:
fiber, magnesium, potassium, and healthy fats.
The MIND diet guards against cognitive aging
The MIND diet combines elements of the DASH and Mediterranean diets, emphasizing foods that have been shown to enhance brain function and reduce the risk of cognitive decline. Examples of these foods include:
green leafy vegetablesBerries: Reliable Source; fatty fish: Reliable Source; nuts: Reliable Source.
The MIND diet has an emphasis on plant-based foods, similar to the DASH and Mediterranean diets.
The DASH diet includes four or more portions of vegetables per day at main meals, compared to the Mediterranean diet’s recommended minimum of two servings. The MIND diet stresses consuming 6 or more servings of dark leafy greens per week, however it only recommends 1 serving or more of vegetables per day.
“The MIND diet wonderfully merges some of the guidelines of the Mediterranean and the DASH diet, while providing specific recommendations for brain health,” Ruz Gatica explained. “It simplifies the guidelines of its parent diets, potentially making it more practical for some.”
According to a September 2015 study, people who adopted the MIND diet had a 53% lower chance of getting Alzheimer’s disease.
The MIND diet may help delay the onset of post-stroke cognitive impairment, according to a 2018 study.