Not surprisingly, the highest-ranked diets for this year were also ones that focused on age-related issues. With the baby boomers swelling the ranks of the over 60 crowd, dieticians are taking notice and focusing on how food affects the aging body.
U.S. News and World Report used a panel of nutritional experts to rank diets on their safety and effectiveness for weight loss, prevention of diabetes and heart disease, and how easy they were to follow. The diets were as follows:
#1 DASH Diet
Originally developed to fight high blood pressure, the Dash diet is basically eating what we all know we should eat – whole grains, lots of vegetables, no more than six servings (4 oz) of lean meat, poultry, or fish a week, low-fat dairy, and limited sweets. The kicker is counting the sodium in all of your food to keep it around 1500 mg. a day. This diet would make a good maintenance diet for women 50+ and would be particularly good for anyone with high blood pressure but if would be difficult to lose weight without cutting their suggested calorie allotment and serving suggestions by 30% or more.
#2 MIND Diet
The MIND diet combines the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet focusing on the foods in each that affect brain health. The diet primarily consists of 10 brain-healthy food groups: green leafy vegetables in particular, all other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil, and wine. The foods you avoid are from the five unhealthy groups: red meat, butter, and stick margarine, cheeses, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food. The diet would be relatively easy to follow and, as long as you watch portion sizes, you could lose and or maintain weight. It’s particularly attractive to women who like wine with their meals and a really good choice for anyone with a family history of Alzheimer’s or dementia.
#2 (tie) TLC Diet
The Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes diet (TLC) is about lowering cholesterol and reducing your risk for heart disease. The key is cutting back sharply on fat, especially saturated fat. The thought is that by strictly limiting daily dietary cholesterol intake and getting more fiber, people can manage their high cholesterol, often without medication. This diet would be a bit of work to start because you have to determine what foods you can eat that won’t put you over the 200 mg of dietary cholesterol a day. This would only be a diet you would choose if high cholesterol was an issue for you, otherwise, too much work and too restrictive.
#4 Fertility Diet (we’ll skip for obvious reasons)
#4 (tie) Mayo Clinic Diet
“Lose it!” and “Live it!” is the mantra of the Mayo Clinic Diet book you use as your guide. In Part I, you focus on 15 key habits – ones to add and ones to lose. You don’t count calories, and you can snack all you want on fruits and veggies. After two weeks, you begin part 2, learning how many calories you should eat to either lose or maintain weight and where those calories should come from. There is no food group off-limits. This diet is for the woman who has quite a bit of weight to lose and bad habits that got her there in the first place. For the novice dieter that needs education, this diet sounds like a winner.
#4 (tie) Mediterranean Diet
Most of you are no doubt familiar with the Mediterranean diet. The diet is based on fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts, legumes, olive oil, and herbs and spices for flavor. You eat fish and seafood at least a couple of times a week. Poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt are eaten in moderation, and sweets and red meat for special occasions. You can also enjoy red wine with your meals. There’s a Mediterranean diet pyramid that makes it easy to follow. The Mediterranean diet is also based around an active lifestyle so you’ll need to get that Fitbit up to 10,000 steps a day to get all the benefits. It’s a great diet for women of every age but you have to determine how MUCH you can eat every day to either lose or maintain weight.
For the complete list of all 38 diets ranked, read the U.S. New and World Report article here.