US News & World Report Ranks 25 Diets

Tired of counting calories? You don't have to when following the Mediterranean meal plan. Authority Nutrition notes that the diet typically doesn't require you to track your calories or the macronutients you're consuming, such as protein, fat, and carbs. Rather, the meal plan encourages you to swap out bad fats, like butter, for heart-healthy ones, such as olive oil. In addition, Web MD notes that the diet recommends you eat fresh fruits instead of sugar-riddled sweets and emphasizes fiber-filled foods, such as beans and veggies. Nuts and wine are also on the list of approved foods, as long you enjoy them in moderation. If you are following the Mediterranean meal plan to lose weight, Patient does recommend supplementing the diet with 30 minutes of daily exercise.

Research has shown that the traditional Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease. In fact, an analysis of more than 1.5 million healthy adults demonstrated that following %mediterranean diet menu plan% a Mediterranean diet was associated with a reduced risk of death from heart disease and cancer, as well as a reduced incidence of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases.

You can still eat red meat as long as you limit it to a few times a month, and red wine is fine in moderation, explains Mayo Clinic. Dessert isn't off limits either. The next time you need to satisfy your sweet tooth, prepare Fine Cooking's Honey and Tahini Ganache with Toasted Sesame Seeds or Epicurious's Cherry Almond Tart ; they're both Mediterranean Diet approved!

One, published in 2010 in Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism, assigned 259 overweight diabetics to one of three diets: a low-carb Mediterranean diet, a traditional Mediterranean diet or a diet based on recommendations from the American Diabetes Association. All groups were told to exercise 30 to 45 minutes at least three times per week. After a year, all groups lost weight; the traditional group lost an average of about 16 pounds while the ADA group dropped 17 pounds and the low-carb group lost 22 pounds.

Clearly. The Mediterranean diet has been associated with a decreased risk for heart disease, and it's also been shown to reduce blood pressure and bad" LDL cholesterol. If your Mediterranean approach largely shuns saturated fat (which contributes to high cholesterol), and includes healthier mono- and polyunsaturated fats in moderation (which can reduce cholesterol), you'll do your heart a favor.

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