Nutritionists evaluate how popular eating approaches stack up for weight loss and overall contribution to health.
U.S. News and World Report—with help from a panel of nutrition experts—recently assessed and rated 29 trending diets and eating strategies in seven categories, including safety, short- and long-term weight loss potential, and nutritional completeness. Here’s how a few of the most recognizable scored, on a scale of 1 to 5.
DASH: (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension): Aims to lower blood pressure, mainly through reduced-sodium foods. It emphasizes fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products but allows some lean meats, fish, beans and nuts.
OVERALL SCORE: 4.1
Mediterranean: Mimics eating habits common in Greece and southern Italy, encouraging plant-based foods such as whole grains, legumes, nuts, and olive and canola oils. It limits meat and seafood to a couple of times a week.
OVERALL SCORE: 3.9
Flexitarian: Suits those who like the idea of vegetarianism but don’t want to swear off meat entirely. Some adherents have two meatless days per week and limit meat and poultry intake to 26 weekly ounces. Others have five meatless days and only 9 ounces of meat each week.
OVERALL SCORE: 3.8
Vegan: Cuts out all animal products, including milk, eggs, honey, cheese and other dairy foods (vegetarianism eliminates only animal flesh). Vegetarianism and veganism have been linked to lower risk for some cancers, but they can leave followers short on protein and other nutrients important for health.
OVERALL SCORE: 3.0
Paleo (or the Caveman Diet): Recommends eating as people did thousands of years ago, which means consuming only forageable fruits, vegetables, wild game and grass-fed meats, and avoiding all grains, dairy products, legumes and refined sugars. Proponents contend that our modern diet is the root of many diseases, including diabetes and heart disease.
OVERALL SCORE : 2.0