And the best diet in America is….?

And the best diet in America is….?

‘Tis the season: from Oprah Winfrey to Marie Osmond, the celebs are all over the media, extoling the virtues of their favored diet plan. Diet companies know that this is the time of year when people resolve to eat healthier or lose those extra pounds, and they want to be top-of-mind when choices are made.

But what is the best diet out there?

According to U.S. News & World Report’s annual list – for the seventh straight year – it’s the DASH diet.

The DASH diet (short for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) doesn’t have a celebrity spokesperson, but several books have been written about it by dietitian Marla Heller. It was originally developed by the U.S. National Institutes for Health as a method for lowering blood pressure, but Heller and others have found that it’s also a great blueprint for weight loss and healthy eating.

The DASH diet focuses on low-fat, low-sodium and primarily plant-based meals, although lean poultry and fish are allowed in moderation. U.S. News & World Report gave it high marks for being healthy and easy-to-follow.

The magazine ranked the DASH diet #1 “Best Diet Overall,” followed by the Mediterranean Diet and the MIND diet (a diet aimed at Alzheimer’s prevention). But in the “Best Weight Loss Diet” category, DASH placed 12th, behind the top choices of Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and Volumetrics.

Diets at the bottom of the “Overall” list were the Paleo Diet, the Dukan Diet and the Whole30 diet.

“I believe that the best diet a person can follow is one that focuses on moderation,” says Lexie Schwartz, a registered dietitian at Advocate Eureka Hospital in Eureka, Ill. “There are no magic foods or quick fixes, and more important than focusing on a specific diet, we should work on having healthy relationship with food.”

Schwartz doesn’t believe any food needs to be totally eliminated and sees no reason to fixate over one specific “super food” or product.

“Eat more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and vegetarian protein sources while still savoring your favorite goodies — just watch your portions.”

Sandra Gifford, a registered dietitian at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill., offers these additional tips to people wanting to lose weight:

  1. Write a letter to yourself regarding why weight loss is important to you/remind yourself of your motivators!
  2. Compare your plate at main meals to the “My Plate” nutrition guide: Is your plate balanced? Do your snacks add quality nutrients, or are they empty calories?
  3. Record food and exercise logs: recognize positives and areas you need to work on.
  4. Recognize your feelings of hunger and fullness; reduce emotional/mindless eating.
  5. Get moving and expend more calories.
  6. Get adequate sleep.

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  1. Food for thought…

  2. Rosemary Mueller
    Rosemary Mueller, MPH, RD, LDN January 12, 2017 at 11:29 am · Reply

    Lexie and Sandra, thanks for this sensible advice! For those looking for additional help with a multidisciplinary, medically-supervised weight loss program, please contact Advocate Weight Management at: 847 990-5770 or

  3. This is horrendous! How does a “diet” that promotes eating whole, real foods fall at the bottom? The SAD is everything that is wrong and continues to be wrong including the awful lie that low fat is good. Eating good healthy fats do not make you fat!! We will never reach optimum health as long as we continue to listen to sources that arenin bed with pharmaceutical companies, monsanto, etc.

    • Amen Rose. Not surprising that the “best” diet is 12th in weight loss. So I guess outcomes don’t matter as long as the diet makes you feel good it ranked well while you are staying heavy and getting sicker. Guess this puts the credibility of USNWR in perspective…

  4. This is literally the WORST advice you could provide. You should be ashamed, seeing as you’re the people that we want to trust with our health care. Fat is not the enemy!!! Eating low fat and processed foods is what caused the obesity epidemic, along with countless diseases; cancer, dementia, Alzheimer’s, diabetes. Please, anyone reading this, I implore you to look into cutting out all processed sugar. Yes ALL! Not even in moderation is sugar a sensible thing for anyone. Find alternatives with natural sugars like Swerve or stevia. If you want to see an instant reduction in bloat and belly fat, eliminate grains, particularly gluten. While it may seem extreme, you will: lose weight, get control of you’re eating, stop the sugar cravings, and if you have any health issues like high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, those will go away…I promise you!!! Also, autoimmune diseases like eczema and psoriasis will go away! I am proof. Please, don’t blindly trust your doctor. They aren’t educated in nutrition. They are there to put a bandaid on our heallth issues. And clearly, based on this post, they are so behind in new research that proves high fat, low carb diets are the best thing you can do for your body and mind. Check out ketogenics if you want to learn more!

  5. Thanks for posting this science based article. I’ve been sharing this information with my clients and the public for nearly a year. Now I have additional fact based data to support my findings.

  6. Actually calorie density CAN be a factor in weight gain. Too many people don’t know the simple fact that fat is 9 calories per gram while proteins and carbs are only 4 calories per gram. It is a lifestyle change, not a diet, that can address the issue, and conditioning oneself to avoiding too many “comfort foods” can bring this home.

  7. Awesome tips. I always love reading health articles like this.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.