The analysis of 41 eating plans also gave the Mediterranean diet the top spot in several subcategories: best diet for healthy eating, best plant-based diet, best diet for diabetes and easiest diet to follow.
The high accolades are not surprising, as numerous studies found the diet can reduce the risk for diabetes
, high cholesterol
, memory loss
and breast cancer.
Meals from the sunny Mediterranean region have also been linked to stronger bones
, a healthier heart
and longer life
. Oh, and weight loss
The diet features simple, plant-based cooking, with the majority of each meal focused on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and seeds, with a few nuts and a heavy emphasis on extra virgin olive oil. Say goodbye to refined sugar and flour except on rare occasions. Fats other than olive oil, such as butter, are consumed rarely, if at all.
Meat can make a rare appearance, usually only to flavor a dish. Instead, meals may include eggs, dairy and poultry, but in much smaller portions than in the traditional Western diet. Fish, however, are a staple.
“It’s more than a diet, it’s a lifestyle,” said Atlanta registered dietitian Rahaf Al Bochi, who teaches the Mediterranean diet to her clients. “It also encourages eating with friends and family, socializing over meals, mindfully eating your favorite foods, as well as mindful movement and exercise for a complete healthy lifestyle.”