The start of a new year is a time when many of us contemplate our life seeking improvement, especially when it comes to our diet and health! In today’s society, we are inundated with diets and styles of eating along with varying information around the benefits and effects of certain diets – all of which causes a lot of confusion!
To lend a hand, each year U.S News health experts evaluate the most popular diets to determine the best diet overall and best diets for specific health goals. To be a top-rated diet, a diet has to be safe, easy to follow, nutritious, effective for weight loss and beneficial for preventing diabetes and health disease.
The diet named best overall for 2019 is the Mediterranean Diet, scoring 4.2 out of 5. In addition to receiving the best overall diet title, the Mediterranean diet also came in first place for the best diabetes diet, best healthy eating diet, best heart-healthy diet, best plant-based diet and easiest diet to follow.
If you aren’t familiar with this diet – the Mediterranean diet isn’t a structured diet, instead its an eating pattern which emphasises predominately consuming fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, beans/legumes, nuts and seeds, extra virgin olive oil, herbs and spices and then adding in some fish and seafood a couple of times per week and poultry, eggs, cheese and yoghurt in moderation while limiting sweet foods and red meat for special occasions. In fact, think of meat as a garnish or flavour enhancer rather than the main event! A regular glass of red wine is also advocated for on this diet.
In addition to what’s eaten, it’s also important to understand the Mediterranean lifestyle. Specifically, eating mindfully and bonding over meals with loved ones is an important element of this culture. Similarly, keeping active by engaging in lots of incidental exercise forms a large part of the daily lifestyle. Keeping stress to a minimum and being active in the community is also known to be key in achieving longevity.
Following the Mediterranean diet, when it comes to best overall diet, the DASH diet came in second place and the Flexitarian diet in third place.
If you are curious as to what you would eat if following the Mediterranean diet, here is an example day on a plate:
Natural Greek yoghurt with fresh seasonal fruit, nuts/seeds and oat bran
Homemade baked beans on wholegrain toast with sautéed spinach
Wholegrain toast topped with hummus, avocado and tomato + optional feta cheese
Legume and vegetables based soup with wholegrain bread
Lentil and freekeh tabouli with a hummus dressing and optional chicken/fish
Wholemeal or buckwheat pasta tossed with fresh tomatoes, pesto, avocado and chickpeas
Grilled herb marinated fish with Greek salad and cooked brown rice, quinoa or freekeh
Lentil bolognese stuffed capsicums or eggplants and leafy salad
Chicken baked with sliced lemon, tomato, olives, capsicum and herbs served with mashed sweet potato and steamed greens
Wholegrain crackers with avocado and tomato
Cucumber and capsicum sticks with tzatziki