A panel of health experts examined and ranked 41 popular eating plans, concluding that the Mediterranean diet is the most universally beneficial for long-term health. Further down the list, U.S. News named the DASH diet as the second healthiest, with WW (formerly known as Weight Watchers) as fourth, vegetarian as 11th, vegan as 20th, Paleo as 33rd, and Whole30 and keto tied for 38th.
The Mediterranean diet, centered around fruits, vegetables, olive oil, nuts, legumes, and whole grains, is good for everything from your brain to your bones. It’s a diet worth chasing and helps fight against heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes, and cognitive decline.
Consistently following a Mediterranean-style diet can:
1. It boosts brain health.
All those healthy fats are good for your brain, too. One study with 1,864 participants found that those who followed the Mediterranean diet were less likely to get Alzheimer’s or experience other types of cognitive decline in old age. In fact, there’s a direct correlation between fish consumption and lowered risk of Alzheimer’s.
2. Reduce your risk for heart disease. Studies show that following a Mediterranean diet can greatly reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease, including coronary heart disease, myocardial infarction (heart attack), and stroke.
This is likely due to the Mediterranean diet’s positive effects on cardiovascular risk factors, including high blood pressure, triglycerides, and cholesterol.
3. Reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Research suggests that the Mediterranean diet may improve cholesterol, blood sugar levels, and overall blood vessel health, which in turn may reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. The high levels of antioxidants in the Mediterranean diet can prevent cells from undergoing a damaging process called oxidative stress, thereby cutting the risk of Parkinson’s disease in half.