NUTRITION

Here’s Why This Diet was Voted the Best Diet of 2022

Rich in fresh produce, healthy fats and whole grains, the Mediterranean diet was voted the best diet of 2022 by a panel of experts. From heart health to weight management, here are all the reasons why it topped the list.

By Shreya Maji
15 March 2022

Every year, the U.S News and World Report releases an annual list of Best Diets, decided upon by a panel of 27 experts in different fields from nutrition to food psychology, dietary consultation and heart disease. For the fifth year in a row, the Mediterranean diet ranks first amongst a total of 40 different kinds of diets, which includes popular modern methods of dieting like intermittent fasting, the paleo diet and the keto diet.

 

The experts evaluated the diets based on seven different categories: the safety of following the diet, ease of following, its nutritional completeness, how effective it is for short- and long-term weight loss, potential for preventing and managing diabetes, and its potential for lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases. The Mediterranean diet was closely followed by the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet and the flexitarian diet, both of which were tied at second place because of the greater potential health benefits of the Mediterranean diet.

 

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What is the Mediterranean diet?

 

The Mediterranean diet is a non-restrictive eating pattern without rigid rules about calorie intake or exclusion of food groups, which means you can curate your own diet based on need and availability. Inspired by the cuisines and eating habits of the Mediterranean region (especially Greece, Turkey, Italy and Spain), the diet emphasises upon a plant-based eating approach, rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, leafy greens, whole grains, legumes, beans, nuts, olive oil and flavoursome herbs.

 

Lean protein like fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, chicken and turkey, and dairy products are yoghurt and cheese should be eaten in moderation, while red meat and sugary or processed foods should be avoided in this diet. The Mediterranean diet is convenient, easy to follow, and has high levels of satiety because of the presence of healthy fats and fibre-rich foods.

 

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Why was it selected as the best diet?

The scientifically proven health benefits of the Mediterranean diet made it rank first on this list, according to the experts. The diet:

 

  • Contributes to a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases

In a randomised clinical trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2013 which followed 7,000 Spanish men and women at high risk for cardiovascular disease, it was reported that the Mediterranean diet contributed to 30 per cent lower heart-related health issues. According to a cohort study published in the journal Stroke in 2018, women who were at high risk of having a stroke were observed to have the chances of a stroke reduced by 20 per cent.

 

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  • May reduce cognitive decline and protect against Alzheimer’s Disease

Following the Mediterranean diet has been linked to a slower rate of cognitive decline and a lower risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease, concludes a study published in 2018 in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition. In another study published in August 2017 by PLoS One, the Mediterranean diet was seen to protect all domains of cognitive function, such as memory, language and decision-making.

 

  • Lowers the risk of Type 2 diabetes

The Mediterranean diet can both lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and help manage the condition. 418 people across ages were studied based on their adherence to this eating pattern, and the findings were published in Diabetes Care in 2012. It was found that the Mediterranean diet lowered the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 52 per cent. Because of its well-rounded nutritional value and high level of antioxidants, this diet has also been found helpful to manage blood sugar levels in diabetes patients.

 

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  • May help reduce the risk of cancers

The Mediterranean diet can also be protective against certain kinds of cancers. In a 2015 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, it was reported that women who ate a Mediterranean diet had a 62 per cent lower risk of breast cancer than those who ate just a low-fat diet. In a different study published in the journal Nutrients, researchers concluded that the high intake of fruits and vegetables can help reduce the risk of colorectal cancer and cancer-related death.

 

  • Promotes healthy weight by improving metabolism

This eating pattern can be a much more sustainable way to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight than modern fad diets, say the experts at U.S. News and World Report. According to an analysis of data published in The Lancet: Diabetes and Endocrinology in 2016, over a five-year period, the Mediterranean diet contributed to greater weight loss and less increase of waistline circumference than a low-fat diet. When combined with calorie restrictions, this diet can show more effective weight loss results that are sustainable in the long run, as compared to other low-fat diets.

 

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