The top-ranked diet may be one you've never heard of
June 8th, 2011
09:47 AM ET

The top-ranked diet may be one you've never heard of

The best diet as determined by U.S. News and World Reports is one you’ve probably never heard.  The publication, which regularly ranks best colleges, hospitals and cities, released its list of the best diets Tuesday.

The top diet is the DASH, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, which contains foods lower in sodium and centers on veggies, fruits and low-fat dairy.  It was developed by the National Institutes of Health and doesn’t have the marketing firepower that commercial diets with now-svelte celebrities have.  The DASH made it to the top of the list, because of its nutritional completeness and safety.

 Sample menus for the DASH eating plan

Following closely behind DASH was the Mediterranean diet, the TLC diet (diet to improve cholesterol levels), Weight Watchers diet and the Mayo Clinic diet (heart healthy diet).

A panel of health and nutrition experts ranked the diets according to seven categories: Short-term weight loss (the first 12 months), long-term weight loss (maintaining weight loss for two years), how easy it is to follow (feeling full, taste), nutritional completeness (how it meets dietary guidelines), safety, ability to prevent or manage diabetes, and ability to prevent or manage heart disease.

The full list is here, and that includes rankings for the best commercial diet, weight-loss diet, diabetes diet and heart-healthy diets.

soundoff (121 Responses)
  1. Kelly

    People need to realize this "study" was not based on review of the scientific literature or anything else. It was an opinion poll of 22 "experts".

    June 8, 2011 at 11:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • James

      This list is ridiculous – the so-called "experts" are classically-trained nutritionists that still believe saturated fat and cholesterol are bad for you, even though both have been proven benign in study after study. Try going Paleo/Primal for a month and, once you've lost the fat around your liver and other organs and have lost 8-15 lbs the first month you'll most certainly lose 1.5-2 lbs a week thereafter safely and while loving what you're eating. I've been "Paleo" for about 7 months now and am down from 262 to 192 and have never felt better. Experts... really?

      June 8, 2011 at 16:10 | Report abuse |
    • dave

      I'm sure you know way more than the "experts".

      June 9, 2011 at 14:36 | Report abuse |
    • shirleycwalker

      I was extremely pleased to discover this page. I want to to thank you for ones time for this particularly fantastic read!! I definitely loved every part of it and i also have you book-marked to check out new things on your website.

      August 19, 2012 at 10:49 | Report abuse |
  2. Chris Willsie

    I have the best diet - it's the PC Diet, or 'Portion Control' diet. I stopped stuffing my face, kicked out fats, white starches and processed sugars. I weigh & measure EVERYTHING! In 13 months I've lost 165 pounds. Of course, I exercise every day (rowing on a rowing ergometer) to help things along. I've gone from a size 26 to a size 8. Woohoo! Hooray for me! Only way (or 'weigh') to do it.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bariatric nurse

      Sooooo impressed with your story! You are doing the right things- it's paying off.... I had to take the chance to say that you. I'd shake your hand or hug you. Keep it up and tell your story- it's inspiring!

      June 8, 2011 at 13:28 | Report abuse |
    • Chris Willsie

      Thanks Bariatric Nurse... and a hug is sent your way... I have so much energy now and feel great. I can't imagine trying to get up a flight of steps with those 165 lbs now. Jeez! And thanks to you for your 'front line' efforts in the battle of obesity. Never again will I reside in "Obesityville'! I REALLY like Slim City!

      June 8, 2011 at 15:03 | Report abuse |
    • Julie

      Yes, Chris, Hurray for you! Fantastic. Now the hardest part . . .maintaining that great weight loss! Keep up the great job!

      June 8, 2011 at 23:59 | Report abuse |
  3. John

    Personally i don't think diets work. The one thing that worked for me is eating meals in "small portions" and exercise daily.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • TruthandJustice

      Diets are about nutrition, weight loss is all about how much you eat. You can eat nothing but sugar and still lose weight as long as your eat less calories than you use. Of course, you'll have loads of health problems because of the high blood sugar and the lack of fat and protein in your diet, but you'll lose weight.

      June 8, 2011 at 17:36 | Report abuse |
    • dave

      They're not necessarily talking about weight loss diets here. The word diet doesn't just mean trying to lose weight. That's only one aspect (actually I guess, it's two) of what they looked at here.

      June 9, 2011 at 14:38 | Report abuse |
    • antjon

      i totaly agree that eating 5 small healthy meals a day and like you say exercise is crucial and there is no exception when it comes to weight loss exercise is vital, but saying that i do believe that diets do work

      November 11, 2011 at 08:37 | Report abuse |
  4. erich2112x

    Eating good stuff and exercising can be the difference between happiness and well being, and depression.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Binky42

    I'm so sick of these diets that diss red meat. All of that "red meat is bad for you" research is so out of date. People, we EVOLVED eating red meat. It's what our bodies want. You CANNOT maintain good cholesterol levels without eating animal fats, despite popular opinion to the contrary. The more carbohydrates and grains we eat, the less healthy people have become. Go back 50 years when everyone had eggs and bacon for breakfast instead of Cheerios, and you'll find they had much lower cholesterol levels.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Goldberry

      Wow! You don't know much about nutrition!

      June 8, 2011 at 12:45 | Report abuse |
    • Binky42

      That's the problem Goldberry. People are told what to think about nutrition by the government. What we are told to think is usually counter-productive to what we should be doing. I wish more people would do their own independent research instead of just taking the accepted nutritional advice at face value.

      June 8, 2011 at 12:50 | Report abuse |
    • Mac

      Good point, Binky. But, we also evolved eating non-feedlot, natural meat and other animal products. We were also creatures of nearly constant, hard physical labor – all part of the whole system of embracing the lifestyle of our distant ancestors. We should all eat what feels right for ourselves. Don't let yourself be impacted by anti-meat rhetoric – it isn't directed at you personally. I'm a happy, non-judgmental vegan and I don't worry about other people's actions or words relating to either my food choices or theirs. Enjoy life.

      June 8, 2011 at 12:51 | Report abuse |
    • Janifer

      I am in my third round of the HHCG diet....and the maintenance can work like you are talking...good fats..mayo, peanuts, bacon, sausage, olive oil- along with eggs, red meat, steaks...more like they ate in the 1950's is what is good for us. I've saw a package of low fat dressing...has added sugar...eat the full fat dressing of course in moderation! A while back was a "Reader's Digest" article just down this line.

      June 8, 2011 at 16:11 | Report abuse |
    • Bart Hawkins San Antonio TX

      Actually, Goldberry, Binky DOES know a good deal about nutrition (and so do I, with a double doctorate to prove it). Cholesterol in you comes from two sources – that you consume, and that you make yourself.

      The latter comes to about 2 g per day for a healthy person and much more than that for a not-so-healthy one, and is ALL derived from fructose (the starting material). Thus a high-sucrose, high-HFC, high-starch diet leads to cholesterol biosynthesis in you (to say nothing of triglycerides, as well).

      You can eat ZERO red meat, ZERO dairy, ZERO animal products of any kind, and STILL devlelop hypercholosteremeia (and indeed, the statins and other compounds interdict cholesterol synthesis by YOU, not uptake of that derived from animal product).

      Heart attack – classical myocardian infarction – was not described in the medical literature until sugar and refined grains became staples in the indo-euro diet, and once again is derived from cholesterol and acyl-triglycerides you make, NOT what you eat.

      Eliminating eggs, etc. etc. is useful – but ONLY if one sticks to whole grains, modest amounts of fruit, no sucrose, no high-fructose corn syrup, no fruit juices, etc.

      If my thesis were incorrect (and it sure as hell is not) statins (HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors) would not be marketed, sold, or even efficacious.

      Get off your high horse, buddy roo, and listen to those who KNOW.

      June 8, 2011 at 18:00 | Report abuse |
    • JLS639

      To Bart: That is a highly deceptive description of the relationship between cholesterol is synthesis and fructose. Cholesterol can be made from fructose, but almost never from fructose you consume in food. The fructose you consume in food is converted into glucose and fatty acids by your liver.

      Cholesterol is derived from acetic acid, but not what you consume in vinegar (vinegar acid is converted into other metabolites). Acetic acid is an end product of sugar metabolism (in the form of acetyl-CoA) and modified fructose is part of that pathway. This is why you might say "cholesterol comes from fructose." However, that fructose is usually derived from glucose and rarely from fructose you consume. The glucose may have been made from other sugars such as maltose, lactose, galactose, fructose and others. Also, acetyl-CoA may be produced by breaking down fatty acids without any need of sugars. The liver uses what is available (it prefers glucose).

      June 8, 2011 at 22:39 | Report abuse |
    • ashley

      No, we evolved by adapting....I will not eat the decaying flesh of another sentient being...I made that choice 4 years ago...I have adapted...and survived...in perfect heath. Ps...if u eat meat...I do not judge u. 🙂

      June 8, 2011 at 22:59 | Report abuse |
    • C Men

      Wow, two doctorates! Thanks for letting us know that. Now we know that you have no concept of what works in the real world and we shouldn't listen to you. D bag. I love that you drop the "double doctorate" line then tell someone to get off their high horse. You're awesome. Please post more.

      June 9, 2011 at 15:05 | Report abuse |
  6. Duncan

    How to lose weight..
    Cut out the junk food
    Reduce portions

    June 8, 2011 at 12:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Mac

    My wife and I accepted the 28 day challenge associated with The Engine 2 Diet – organic vegan, no added sugar, no fat. I NEVER considered eating this way before my lovely wife asked me to join her. We completed our 28 days a couple months ago and are still loving the vegan approach. We've added some wine, some olive and coconut oils and a sugary treat here and there. I'm down 20 pounds, my cholesterol is down over 100 points and I feel great. No meat, no dairy/cheese, not even fish and I don't miss any of them. Knock me over with a feather!

    June 8, 2011 at 12:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Goldberry

      We've also recently changed to a vegan diet and are very pleased in so many ways! Three of the four of us had health issues related to diet and cutting meat and dairy was an easy fix. If you haven't read "The China Study" yet, I highly recommend it. It will certainly validate the dietary choices you've made.
      Now if only the rest of America could lose the excess weight and lower the cholesterol – our country might not go bankrupt from medicare!

      June 8, 2011 at 12:48 | Report abuse |
    • Binky42

      I hope you are taking supplements, or you may soon suffer from a Vitamin B-12 deficiency. B-12 can only be found in animal products, and it's essential for humans to consume some.

      June 8, 2011 at 12:52 | Report abuse |
    • Mac

      Thanks for your concern, Binky. Yes, we take B-complex (as well as a number of other supplements.) The LAST source we'd consider for information about food is the government's dietary recommendations. Many of us who eat vegan are intelligent and well-researched relating to nutrition and health. I'm a certified personal trainer with a study emphasis on nutrition. I'm quite certain that one of the things future health research will show is that we eat far too much protein and that the unnatural nature of many of our foods (GMO's, GMO-fed meat animals, antibiotic treated feed animals, etc) have irreversibly and negatively damaged our plant and biology. I'm just sayin'...

      June 8, 2011 at 13:01 | Report abuse |
    • Elizabeth

      Diets work best if people bring food to their job place, and not eat any junk food from vending machines, fast food, etc. People who worry about Medicare shouldn't, they should worry about lack of jobs: Medicare and Social Security wouldn't be in trouble if the people from age 20 to 66 had jobs. My husband brings his yogurt, drinks, soup, etc. to work with him every day. People who don't earn enough can't afford more expensive nutritious foods.

      June 8, 2011 at 14:00 | Report abuse |
    • Veganman

      Binky, B-12 is available from Vegan sources. I've been Vegan for 12 years, never have taken a supplement. My B-12 level is normal per my MD.

      My cholesterol is 114.

      Your constant posts of misinformation are becoming less and less relevant. Head over to veganhealth.org and do some research before you open your nescient mouth next time.

      June 9, 2011 at 09:40 | Report abuse |
    • dave

      Every vegan I know is a fatty.

      June 9, 2011 at 14:44 | Report abuse |
  8. Mary

    I looked at the last day's menu and calculated the "would be" WW points – 47 – WOW I'm alotted 29 points a day, so far losing 25 lbs on Weight Watchers. I don't believe I would loose any weight on the DASH diet!

    June 8, 2011 at 12:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. fattbutt

    I agree that portion control and keeping the fire (metabolism) burning is key, but I have a new found respect for these different diets as not all people are created equal. Not one diet is going to be useful to the world's population. The med diet may work great for me, but not for you. Perhaps you would be better off trying the paleo diet, and so on.

    The one staple I will agree to is exercise. I don't care how good the diet is, one must exercise to stay healthy.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. kmcg

    the DASH diet doesn't look like a *diet* to me.... looks like how you're SUPPOSED to eat.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • dave

      Diet: food and drink regularly provided or consumed.

      June 9, 2011 at 14:47 | Report abuse |
  11. JT

    calories, calories, calories... it's a simple balancing act. Nutrition is important, so don't drink a six-pack to get your calories in. But in general, low-calorie foods are also pretty healthy. I've lost 15 lbs excersing 2x a week and cutting out sodas. To be honest, I don't eat breakfast even though they say you should eat several small meals. I'm tring to get in shape more than lose a lot of weight so I'm content to only lose a pound or so a week. If I could stop drinking alcohol all together, I'm sure I'd lose another 10 lbs but I really enjoy a beer or two a few nights a week!

    June 8, 2011 at 13:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. ms

    This is very similar to Pritikin Diet. So very well known.

    June 8, 2011 at 13:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. babs

    Wow – almost 300 g of carbs/day. Not for a diabetic. I lost weight by cutting out 500+ calories/day and, most importantly, keeping a detailed food diary of everything I ate (no cheating!). It's amazing how much you realize you actually eat in a day when you track it.

    June 8, 2011 at 13:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. bill

    If over eating and in activity make you fat,. why wouldn't fasting and jogging make you skinny?

    June 8, 2011 at 13:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. fit4ever

    I do not trust this articcle. These are not the best diets. they are an OK diets for a short term. to be in perfect shape need to work with your hormons, eliminate all substances, etc.

    June 8, 2011 at 14:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. amylynn


    A European filmmaker has been reversing weight problems in NON diabetics with a Diabetes diet.

    It has been giving people who have a hard time losing weight a normal body weight fast

    It is now used in 10 countries. ALL weight issues are caused by Food chemicals( PROCESSED FOODS) and he shows how to reverse it

    if you are Diabetic or not SEE HERE http://spirithappy.wordpress.com/2011/04/19/can-i-lose-weight-not-with-these-popular-diets-says-usa-today-news/

    just google SPIRIT HAPPY DIET

    June 8, 2011 at 14:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. maggie

    This sums it up, if you also add exercise: Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.
    I read that "quote" in an article, years ago & it still makes lots of sense.

    June 8, 2011 at 16:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. HealthyMom

    Everyone should give Gudernoobs by WooHoo Foods a try. They are nutritious, vegan, raw snacks that come in 4 varieties. They are only 30 calories each and have omega-3s!

    June 8, 2011 at 16:17 | Report abuse | Reply

    So you could be right, the #1 diet in the country could be one you have never heard of. I have been doing one since Dec. 2010. I have lost 36 lbs and over 25 inches. I did that in 90 days and no exercise. I do agree that exercise helps you ALOT. But I couldn't exercise due to 3 back surgeries. I have maintained my weight loss since my 90 days and actually lost a couple pounds since then just on my maintaince plan with the products. This is a wonderful product with alot of incentives to keep everyone motivated. You even get to do your before and after pics and enter it for a HUGE prize or prizes. I'd love to share it with anyone any everyone. It has helped alot of health issues etc. I no longer take blood pressure meds, or daily headache meds either. My cholestoral and blood work look amazing compared to past ones. Great for diabetics, heart patients, gluten free, lactose free. Good luck to everyone that is on their journey to a healthier life.

    June 8, 2011 at 16:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. The_Mick

    I lost 30 lbs with portion control and walking, but my Achilles tendons -scarred from years as a runner, one surgically repaired- didn't let me walk enough and I hit a wall. A few weeks ago I bought a bicycle. I'm burning twice as many calories in the same time as walking, getting a better "burn" in my legs and also feeling better tone in my arms and shoulders. My Achilles tendons are fine. And I've lost 3 lbs. Exercise is a big part of the whole program: find a way to do it.

    June 8, 2011 at 16:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. pete

    Good thing they didn't test this diet to Advocare's 24 Day Challenge, because it would have won. http://www.advocare.com/09013719 to find out how thousands are losing weight and inches, safely.

    June 8, 2011 at 17:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Skeptic

    Interesting, the list I read showed Weight Watchers plan as #1, DASH was towards the top, but not #1 as implied here.

    June 8, 2011 at 17:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • dave

      You read a different list. There are multiple lists. DASH was #1 on the overall list.

      June 9, 2011 at 14:51 | Report abuse |
  23. Jennifer J

    TruthandJustice: I like your comments. It reminds me of hearing a person could go on a diet of eating a serving of ice cream three times a day and still loose weight if that was ALL they ate. After all, that would probably come in at less than 1,000 calories!

    June 8, 2011 at 18:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Oh, Yeah...

    The DASH is good for high blood pressure. No doubt about it. Lots of people have to worry about not only that but their sugar. It's a very hard thing to balance. Everyone has to eat to their own body needs. If your sugar is high, you can't run around eating tons of fruit and starch. I eat a low carb diet and watch the types of fruit I eat. Also, I try not to eat anything over 5% sodium. It's easy to do except for when it comes to cheese, but it can be done. Just read your labels.

    June 8, 2011 at 19:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Willow

    The only things that ever work for me are counting calories and exercise. Unfortunately, counting calories gets boring over time and I have zero athletic skills, so my exercise is limited to walking and yoga. But it helps keep the weight off.

    June 8, 2011 at 20:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. loudwhisper

    The diseases we suffer from are new, having developed in in the last few decades. It's about portion control, eating variety...including those dark leafy greens and beans, so many people hate. If your great grandparents walked into the grocery store today with you and they couldn't identify what it is...you shouldn't be eating it...plain and simple. This sounds horrible to people who need convenience in their lives. All sugar that is not labled as vegan or is a natural cane granule, is processed with animal bone to grind it down into the fine powder granules you buy at the store...what do you think all that sugar 'dust' is? Many 'Natural flavorings' are actually made from bugs...bugs that taste like smarties...yum!

    June 8, 2011 at 20:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. The_Mick

    The NIH provides a free copy of it's 64-page "Your Guide to Lowering Your Blood Pressure with DASH" here:

    Note that the DASH diet was specifically researched to address high blood pressure and it's percentages of protein, fat, and carbs would certainly be slightly different if it addressed ONLY weight loss, etc. For example, protein is limited to 18% of Calories, whereas a "normal" diet recommended by the NIH averages 25% Calories from protein.

    So the DASH diet is very restrictive on meat – 6 oz day. The Mayo Clinic Diet is less restrictive on portion sizes and allows 21% Calories from Protein.

    June 8, 2011 at 23:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Wellness Counselor

    I wasn't going to reply but. The person with the "double doctorate" why would you copy and paste information on here. Anyone can do that. What is your PhD (s) in anyway? Also, the person who mentioned simple intake portions and more output will make you lose weight...what about Thyroid conditions, hormonal changes, etc. I have worked with clients who eat right and exercise right and still can't lose the weight. One thing all of us on here said is this. Different diets work for different people. So one plan might not work for the other guy or girl.

    June 9, 2011 at 01:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Jurriaan Plesman

    I have found that the hypoglycemic diet – high protein, frequents snacks plus vitamins and minerals is the best. Insulin resistance is a major cause of obesity, and this diet addresses that problem.

    June 9, 2011 at 02:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. JehseaLynn

    @Binky42 – I am not attacking meat, just pointing out that 50 years ago, yes, people ate lots of meat and likely had good cholesterol levels. But they very likely also had 160 or more acres on which they raised their own "organic" (antibiotic-free) meat, and had the added benefit of working every one of those acres sunup to sundown with very little help or technology – they definitely did not need a gym or "The Biggest Loser" to stay fit. Survival left no option. As for today's diets, I lost 100 lbs. on Weight Watchers' Points System at home, in 9 months, going from a size 20 to a 0 ( no, I am NOT TOO THIN as I am only 4 feet, 10 inches!). At 50+ I look just as good and toned in my bikini as I did in high school! And, it is super-simple to keep it off. My exercise consisted of daily walks 🙂 I have to SHOO the men away!

    June 9, 2011 at 04:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Deb

      Thank you, JehsealLynn! I have lost 10 lbs this month on weight watchers at home...I am diabetic, have thyroid problems, and high cholestrerol. You have given me much needed encouragement as I attempt to lose 140 more lbs. Congratulations on your weigh loss!

      June 9, 2011 at 09:32 | Report abuse |
  31. Patrick

    There is no need for a diet, here is what the problem is with American food:Burger, hot dog, fake Italian pizza, sugar and soda, the best of American cuisine!!! are "dog food" and a recipe for obesity... reason why 25 % or more of the US population is obese...!!! and one in five teenager is also obese, that’s 20% of the teenagers population, keep on feeding your kids “dog food”!!!instead of real food cooked at home…
    American mothers should get off their fat “bun” and start learning how to cook to feed real food to their kids instead of dog food. Parents of obese teenagers should be arrested and thrown in jail, anybody can cook healthy food but, buying dog food is the easy way out and who pays the consequences of the lazy mothers?, the kids….
    Don’t give me the two parents working line…. You choose to work and if you need to have two salaries you are probably living over your needs… – too big house, more cars than you need, etc., etc., –

    June 9, 2011 at 10:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • dave

      You lost all credibility with that last line.

      June 9, 2011 at 15:02 | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      He lost me after the first sentence. The pidgin English is a dead giveaway that this dude is a troll for whom English is a foreign language. He uses these forums to practice conversation.

      I have news for him: it isn't working.

      June 9, 2011 at 17:12 | Report abuse |
  32. Jerricho

    I don't understand why people come up with all these goofy diets to lose weight(I know not all of them are to lose weight). It is simple science, your body is just a bio machine that runs on "calories". If you use more calories than you take in you lose weight, if you take in more calories than you use you gain weight.

    If you want to eat a lot you have to do a lot, if you don't want to do anything you have to eat a lot less. It is not rocket science, burn more calories than you eat and you will lose weight.

    June 9, 2011 at 16:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Latrice Madura

    Very informative website, I do agree with most of your points. I hope there will be no fat people in the world anymore. Cheers!

    June 13, 2011 at 00:59 | Report abuse | Reply
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    February 3, 2012 at 19:48 | Report abuse | Reply
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    February 12, 2012 at 09:42 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.