Food for Thought: Ultimate goal, a healthy diet

By Nancy Schuster, Frontier District Extension Agent

Mention the word “diet” and everyone automatically thinks extreme calorie cuts. Not so. A diet is the food we eat – our diet may be high or low calorie, full of healthy choices or not. A healthy diet does not mean restricted calories, it means eating low fat dairy, more fruits and vegetables, lean protein foods from animal and plant sources, and whole grain foods.

foodforthoughtRecently at Extension Family & Consumer Science training, I heard a registered dietitian talk about healthy everyday diets and weight loss diets. He said that US News and World Report recently evaluated healthy diets and healthy weight loss diets, and the information was reliable.

U.S. News evaluated and ranked 35 healthy lifestyle diets with input from a panel of health experts. To be top-rated, a diet had to be relatively easy to follow, nutritious, safe, and protective against diabetes and heart disease. Health experts assigned scores on a scale of 1 (ineffective) to 5 (extremely effective).

The 35 best healthy lifestyle diet ranking can be found here:

The government-endorsed Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) snagged the top spot with a score of 4.1 out of 5.0. Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes, or TLC, is a very solid diet plan created by the National Institutes of Health in second place with a score of 4.0 out of 5.0. The next three diets rank a score of 3.9 out of 5.0, Mayo Clinic Diet was third and fourth place was the Mediterranean Diet with Weight Watchers scored fifth.

U.S. News evaluated and examined the research supporting or refuting a diet’s potential to bring both short- and long-term weight loss. Those measures contributed equally to a diet’s overall weight-loss score.

See the ranking of 37 weight loss diets:

The best diet for losing weight is Weight Watchers (3.8 out of 5.0), according to the experts who rated the diets for U.S. News. HMR Diet was second (3.6 out of 5.0), third was Biggest Loser and fourth Jenny Craig (both scored 3.5 out of 5.0) close behind. The Raw Food Diet was fifth with a score of 3.4 out of 5.0. Other diets performed as well or better in enabling fast weight loss, but long-term weight loss is more important for your health.

Keep in mind that all of the evaluations done have positive and negative points shared about the diets. Some of the diets are costly; others require special foods or supplements. Just because a diet was scored, does not mean it is a safe diet to follow.

schustersmNancy Schuster is a Frontier Extension District family and consumer science agent whose responsibilities include providing information about food safety, nutrition, food science and food preparation. She is based in the Garnett office of the Frontier Extension District and can be reached at 785-448-6826 or email [email protected].

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