U.S. News & World Report on Tuesday released its Best Diets for 2022, with the Mediterranean diet ranking No. 1 for the fifth consecutive year.
How U.S. News picks the best diets
For the Best Diets 2022 ranking, U.S. News editors and reporters "winnow[ed] potential additions" to the rankings and then reviewed government reports, medical journals, and other resources to create detailed profiles for the 40 diets that made the final list. Each profile explains:
- How the diet works
- Whether its lives up to its claims
- Any possible health risks
- What life is like on the diet
A panel of 27 experts in diet, nutrition, obesity, food psychology, diabetes, and heart disease reviewed each profile and rated the diets on seven criteria:
- Ease of compliance
- Potential for short-term weight loss
- Potential for long-term weight loss
- Nutritional completeness
- How safe it is
- Potential for diabetes prevention and management
- Potential for heart disease prevention and management
Once the diets were rated, U.S. News converted the panelists' ratings into scores and stars, using a five-point scale—with 5 being the highest score and 1 being the lowest score. Based on the scores, U.S. News ranked the diets in nine categories:
- Best Diets Overall
- Best Diet Programs
- Best Weight-Loss Diets
- Best Diabetes Diets
- Best Heart-Healthy Diets
- Best Diets for Healthy Eating
- Easiest Diets to Follow
- Best Plant-Based Diets
- Best Fast Weight-Loss Diets
The diets that rounded out the top five on the Best Overall list are:
- The Mediterranean Diet, which ranks No. 1 for the fifth consecutive year. According to research, the diet—which is inspired by the observation that people in the Mediterranean live longer, healthier lives—can prevent chronic diseases and increase longevity, U.S. News reports. The diet is low in sugar, red meat, and saturated fats, but high in produce, nuts, and other healthy foods.
- The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Diet, which tied for No. 2 this year. The DASH Diet combats and prevents high blood pressure and diabetes. The diet focuses on foods with nutrients that help naturally control blood pressure, such as fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy. Expert panelists ranked the diet highly for its nutritional completeness and ability to support heart health.
- The Flexitarian Diet, which also ranks No. 2 this year. The diet is designed to promote weight loss, overall health, and longevity by having people eat mostly—but not completely—vegetarian. The diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and is considered very easy to follow by the expert panelists.
- The MIND Diet, which ranks No. 4, was created to prevent cognitive decline and promote brain health by increasing the intake of leafy greens, berries, and nuts.
- The Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) Diet, which tied with three other diets at No. 5, was created by the National Institute of Health's (NIH) National Cholesterol Education Program and is focused on cutting cholesterol through a heart-healthy eating regimen.
- The Mayo Clinic Diet, which also ranked No. 5. On the Mayo Clinic Diet, people follow a unique food pyramid that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It is also one of the best diets for diabetes, according to the panelists.
"The influence of diet on health across the life span cannot be overstated, especially amidst the COVID-19 pandemic where diet quality can impact outcomes," said David Katz, president of True Health Initiative and former director of Yale Prevention Research Center. "While the themes of eating well for long- and short-term health are well established, there are many variants that allow for 'personalizing' the benefits of great nutrition."
Top diets across all categories
The No. 1 diets on the other Best Diet rankings were:
- The Mediterranean Diet, which ranked No. 1 on the Easiest Diets to Follow, Best Diets for Healthy Eating, Best Diabetes Diets, and Best Plant-Based Diets.
- The Ornish Diet tied with the Mediterranean Diet for the No. 1 spot on the Best Heart-Healthy Diets.
- The Flexitarian Diet, WW Diet, and Volumetrics Diet tied for the No. 1 ranking on the Best Weight-Loss Diets.
- The Atkins Diet ranked No. 1 for the Best Fast Weight-Loss Diets.
- The WW Diet ranked No.1 for the Best Diet Programs. ("Best Diets," U.S. News & World Report, 1/4; U.S. News & World Report release, 1/4; U.S. News & World Report methodology, 1/4)