Mediterranean Diet Named Best Diet of 2020

The Mediterranean diet is heavy on fruits, vegetables and olive oil. (Photo: Marian Weyo/Shutterstock)

For the third consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report has named the Mediterranean diet the best overall diet. Not only did the diet grab the top spot, it also ranked No. 1 in the following categories: best diet for healthy eating, easiest diet to follow, best diet for diabetes and best plant-based diet.

Now in its tenth year, the report ranked 35 diets on everything from weight loss, managing diabetes and heart disease, nutritional completeness, safety and how easy they are to follow.

Named for the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea whose residents live longer and are healthier than most Americans, the Mediterranean diet is high in fruits and vegetables, nuts and legumes, seafood and olive oil, but low in red meat, sugar and saturated fat.

"The hallmarks of a 'best' diet include balance, maintainability, palatability, family-friendliness, sustainability, along with healthfulness. The Mediterranean diet gets checkmarks in all of those boxes," Yale University Prevention Research Center founding director Dr. David Katz, who was one of 25 judges on the U.S. News and World Report panel, told CNN.

Tied for second overall is the DASH diet and the flexitarian diet. DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) was originally created to help patients lower blood pressure without medication. To that end, it encourages a diet heavy on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and low-fat dairy, and less on processed sugars, red meat and other saturated fats. The flexitarian is a mostly vegetarian diet with a goal to lower disease risk.

Hitting the bottom of the rankings were the Dukan, keto and Whole30 diets, which experts faulted for both their restrictive nature, difficulty to follow, and lack of studies to back up claims.

"Whether you're trying to lose weight or improve heart health, diets are not one size fits all. The 2020 Best Diets rankings provide consumers with the information and data needed to make an informed decision that helps them – along with input from their doctor or other medical professional – choose the plan that's best for them," Angela Haupt, managing editor of health at U.S. News, said in a press release. "The in-depth coverage of diets empowers consumers to narrow down the options and make a choice that reflects their lifestyle, personal preferences and overall goal."