The 2022 US News Best Diet rating has once again confirmed the superior health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet, ranking the extra virgin olive oil-rich eating regime #1 in the Best Diets Overall category1. Awarded a score of 4.2/5, the Mediterranean Diet was also rated #1 in an additional five out of the eight categories:
- #1 in Best Diets Overall
- #1 in Best Plant-Based Diets
- #1 in Best Heart-Healthy Diets (tie)
- #1 in Best Diabetes Diets
- #1 in Best Diets for Healthy Eating
- #1 in Easiest Diets to Follow
Given its focus on long-term health benefits and lifestyle accessibility rather than ‘dieting’ as such, it’s not surprising that the two categories where the Med Diet didn’t earn the top position were both about weight loss, ranking equal #25 in Best Fast Weight-Loss Diets and equal #12 in Best Weight-Loss Diets.
Healthy Plant Fats
The other top-ranking diets in the 2022 listing were DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet, which came in second, followed by the Flexitarian Diet at #3 and the Mind Diet at #41.
Significantly, all of the top four diets emphasise an increase in plant-based foods and a decrease in saturated fats, core elements of the Mediterranean diet, and all support the consumption of “healthy fats” including extra virgin olive oil.
The US News’ diet rating website in fact describes the Mediterranean diet pyramid as emphasizing the consumption of olive oil. We were pleased to read also the reference to olive oil as “a cooking staple in Mediterranean recipes”, as well the accepted “key salad dressing ingredient”
The Ranking Process
The annual US News Best Diets listing ranks the current most popular diets across a number of categories, rating their effects on aspects including heart health, short and long-term weight loss, ease of compliance, safety and nutrition.
For the 2022 listing, detailed assessments of 40 diets were prepared by US News and reviewed by a broad panel of health experts, including nutritionists and specialists in diabetes, heart health, human behaviour and weight loss. The experts then rated each diet across the seven categories: ease of following, ability to produce short-term/long-term weight loss, nutritional completeness, safety and potential for preventing and managing diabetes and heart disease1.
A recap on the Mediterranean Diet
Simply put, the Mediterranean diet is the traditional diet eaten by people living in the Mediterranean area. Because this is a vast area covering many countries in South Europe and North Africa, there is no one Mediterranean way of eating. However, the Mediterranean Diet is a mostly-plant based diet, and includes common foods and themes such as enjoying plenty of extra virgin olive oil, fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds, wholegrains, pulses and legumes2. The eating pattern also includes smaller amounts of fish & seafood, and occasional serves of chicken, cheese, yoghurt & eggs. Only very little red meat, processed foods, refine grains, processed meats and added sugars are included in this way of eating2.
The Mediterranean Diet achieving the number 1 spot in the healthiest diet ranking is unsurprising given the large body of evidence that exists to support the health benefits of following this eating pattern. Some of the many conditions that the Mediterranean Diet has been shown to have benefits for include heart health, mental health including cognition, and gut health3. The Mediterranean Diet has also been associated with weight control, anti-aging, and anti-inflammation3.
View article references
- US News. U.S. News & World Reports Reveals Best and Worst Diets of 2022. January 2022. Accessed June 2022. https://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-and-nutrition/diet/us-news-best-diet-plans-mediterranean-dash-more
- Oldways. Mediterranean Diet. Access June 2022. https://oldwayspt.org/traditional-diets/mediterranean-diet
- Dinu M, Pagliai G, Casini A et al. Mediterranean diet and multiple health outcomes: an umbrella review of meta-analyses of observational studies and randomised trials. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2017;27(1):doi:10.1038/ejcn.2017.58