These Are the Best Diets of 2023, Says U.S. News & World Report

The Mediterranean Diet landed at the top of the annual list. How did your diet fare?

Happy young couple in kitchen eating healthy

Updated on January 3, 2023.

With the arrival of the new year, Americans in large numbers are gearing up to take better care of themselves. For many, that means adopting some sort of diet.

To kick things off, U.S. News & World Report has released the Best Diets 2023 rankings, its 13th annual assessment of popular diet plans.

In compiling this year’s list of 38 diets, U.S. News editors and reporters scoured medical journals, government reports, and other health resources. Researchers created a profile for each diet that includes whether it helps to achieve a specific goal, if there are any risks involved, and what it’s actually like to try the diet.

Next, a panel of nutritionists, researchers, and physicians specializing in diabetes, nutrition, obesity, food psychology, and heart health reviewed the profiles, added their own research, and scored each diet across categories including:

  • How easy it is to follow
  • Short- and long-term weight loss results
  • Nutritional completeness
  • Safety
  • Potential for preventing or controlling diabetes and heart disease

The result is a ranking of 24 diets across a variety of categories including best diets overall, best diets for weight loss, and best heart-healthy diets.

Once again, the popular plant-based Mediterranean Diet ranked highest, taking the top spot as best overall diet. Trailing closely behind is the heart-healthy DASH Diet, tied with the veggie-rich Flexitarian Diet.

Whether you’re looking to lose weight, consume less meat, or simply eat cleaner, here’s a breakdown of this year’s diets and how they stack up against one another.

A closer look at the top 3

For the sixth year in a row, the Mediterranean Diet ranks at the top of the list. A mounting pile of evidence suggests this heart-healthy diet can help you shed unwanted pounds, boost brain health, and help protect against diabetes and certain types of cancer. A Mediterranean-style diet focuses on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, beans, nuts, and olive oil. Seafood is encouraged at least twice a week, and eggs and poultry may be consumed occasionally, in moderation. An occasional glass of red wine is fine, but added sugars, red meat, and other sources of saturated fats are limited.

Coming in second overall is the DASH Diet, the heart-friendly eating plan that aims to lower blood pressure, raise levels of HDL (“good” cholesterol), decrease levels of (LDL) “bad” cholesterol, and help you control your blood sugar. The DASH Diet also emphasizes whole grains and fruits and vegetables, but unlike the Mediterranean Diet, it outlines specific servings of each food group. Foods high in potassium, magnesium, fiber, and lean proteins are encouraged. The diet also suggests limiting foods that can hurt your heart, like salt, sweets, and red meat.

The mostly plant-based Flexitarian Diet is tied for second place. Rather than eliminating meat altogether, the goal of being “flexitarian” is to pack your plate with whole grains, legumes, fruits, veggies, and nuts. It's a diet that’s been proven to help people lose weight and lower their risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. While the occasional serving of meat is fine, sticking to mostly plant-based foods is ideal. 

Other best diets by category

In addition to the best diets overall, U.S. News also ranked the best diets for several different categories. These included certain health conditions as well as particular goals, like weight loss. Here’s a breakdown of the top picks for some of the most popular categories.

Best diet programs: Well-known diets like WW (Weight Watchers) are popular because they are convenient and often offer prepared foods, supplements, or coaching support. Experts ranked 13 structured programs that typically involve a participation fee or promotion of the company’s product.

1. WW (Weight Watchers) Diet
2. Jenny Craig Diet (tie)
2. Noom (tie)
4. Mayo Clinic Diet

Best weight-loss diets: Experts looked at 24 diets to gauge their effectiveness at achieving safe and lasting weight loss.

1. WW (Weight Watchers) Diet
2. DASH Diet
3. Mayo Clinic Diet (tie)
3. TLC Diet (tie)

Easiest diets to follow: You’re probably more likely to stick to a diet if it’s fairly easy to follow. Experts rated these diets on taste, restrictiveness, and overall satisfaction.

1. The Flexitarian Diet (tie)
1. TLC Diet (tie)
3. DASH Diet (tie)
3. Mediterranean Diet (tie)

Best diabetes diets : A healthy diet is one of the best ways to help control diabetes. These diets were rated based on their ability to prevent and manage the condition.

1. DASH Diet
2. Mediterranean Diet
3. The Flexitarian Diet
4. Ornish Diet

Best heart-healthy diets: Being overweight or obese is a significant risk factor for heart disease and stroke. These diets aim to help you lose weight, lower your cholesterol levels, and reduce blood pressure.

1. DASH Diet
2. Mediterranean Diet
3. The Flexitarian Diet (tie)
3. Ornish Diet (tie)

Best plant-based diets: Plant-based diets are gaining popularity—and for good reason. They are heart-healthy, can help you lose weight, and may also benefit the environment. These diets emphasize minimally processed plant foods.

1. Mediterranean Diet
2. The Flexitarian Diet
3. MIND Diet
4. Mayo Clinic Diet (tie)
4. Volumetrics Diet (tie)

Before you start a new diet, it’s best to talk with your healthcare provider. Your current weight, medical conditions, and lifestyle habits all play a role in determining what’s best for you. Read more about U.S. News & World Report’s profiles of all 38 diets.

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U.S. News & World Report. Best Diets 2023. January 2023.

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