The claim is that dieters can lose 8 pounds a month, while improving blood levels of triglycerides, cholesterol levels and blood pressure. "Our experts say it's superior to Atkins and good for fast weight loss, but it can be tough to follow, since guidance is scare. You're largely on your own, which can deter some dieters," Haupt tells us.
Other plant-centered diets that rank high include the Ornish diet, based on the plan developed by Dr. Dean Ornish. This diet approach is touted as a way to reverse diabetes and heart disease. The diet moved up a notch from the 2016 list. It emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, soy products, nonfat dairy, as well as some "good fats that contain omega-3 fatty acids," according to a description on the diet's website.
The Mediterranean diet retains a top spot as well. As the reviewers explain in the diet's profile: "There isn't 'a' Mediterranean diet. Greeks eat differently from Italians, who eat differently from the French and Spanish. But they share many common understandings."
A consumer-friendly Mediterranean diet pyramid was developed by Oldways, a nonprofit in Boston, working with researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health. The U.S News reviewers point out: "The not-so-surprising secret [of a Mediterranean diet] is an active lifestyle, weight control, and a diet low in red meat, sugar and saturated fat and high in produce, nuts and other healthful foods." Another bonus: A little red wine with meals is not frowned upon.
If keeping your noggin sharp is a high priority, the MIND diet — which is ranked No. 3 on the list of Best Diets Overall — combines the DASH diet approach (which was originally designed to help people control high blood pressure) and the Mediterranean diet.
According to the U.S. News reviewers, MIND — which was developed by researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago — focuses on foods that influence brain health.
So what are some changes from last year's rankings of Best Diets? The vegan diet moved up to No. 16 on the Best Diets Overall List. (Last year it was No. 21.) And SlimFast dropped from No. 15 on the list of Best Diets Overall down to No. 20. Two other diets that slipped in the rankings: Atkins fell on the Best Weight-Loss Diets list, and Biggest Loser also slipped in the Best Diets for Healthy Eating category.
The paleo diet hangs on. It's ranked 36th out of 38 in the Best Diets Overall category. The main knocks against it: Reviewers say the produce aisle and meat counter tend to be expensive, and the diet can be hard to follow while dining out. Reviewers note that dieters will need to get accustomed to ordering breadless sandwiches and skipping many other menu items that contain grains and dairy. Also noted: Alcohol is not part of a true paleo diet.
Why the changes in rankings? "Our expert panelists reviewed and rescored each diet, and their scores vary each year based on program changes, new research and general evolution of thinking in the diet and nutrition space," Haupt tells us.
Copyright 2017 NPR.