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This Eating Style Just Swept The Best Diet Rankings (Again) For 2022

Eliza Sullivan
Food Writer
By Eliza Sullivan
Food Writer
Eliza Sullivan is a food writer and SEO editor at mindbodygreen. She writes about food, recipes, and nutrition—among other things. She studied journalism at Boston University.
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January 4, 2022

Each year, U.S. News & World Report releases a ranking of the best diets in January to kick off the new year in health. The lists dropped this morning, and we can't say we're entirely surprised.

For the fifth year in a row, we can report that U.S. News ranks the Mediterranean diet as the best—and this year, it's swept quite a few other categories, too. In addition to best overall, it topped the lists for best for healthy eatingeasiest to follow, and best plant-based diet, not to mention a top choice for supporting heart health and blood sugar control.

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In review: What is the Mediterranean diet?

With roots in research from the 1950s and 1960s, the Mediterranean diet is inspired by the traditional diets in the regions surrounding—you guessed it—the Mediterranean Sea. It's different from many of the other diets on the U.S. News lists because it does not limit calories or cut out any particular food groups. Instead, it offers guidelines for eating—including its own food pyramid developed in 1993.

The diet focuses on whole foods—prominently fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. More specifically, you'll find a lot of colorful antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies, omega-3 rich seafoods, and nutrient-dense ancient grains.

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Why is it considered the best diet (in so many categories)?

The big banner benefits of the diet include supporting heart health, longevity, healthy weight, and brain health—all things that certainly contribute to its high rankings from U.S. News.

Its place atop the list of easiest diets to follow is likely due to the fact that it isn't based on strict restrictions but rather on prioritizing key food groups while minimizing some ingredients.

But it's considered an "eating style" for a reason—it's much more than just a diet. Fully adopting the Mediterranean diet means also embracing some of the lifestyle values, too: walking, eating organic and local when possible, and sharing time with friends or family. Those other enriching elements may seem like extra work, but in practice, you may find they have mental and emotional benefits that a diet change alone wouldn't bring to your life.

How to adopt the Mediterranean diet.

If now, after five years of it topping the charts, you're thinking it's time to give this diet a whirl—we're here to help. It's one of the diets we love most because of its gentle holistic approach—and also because of all the delicious recipes that fit into its parameters (our favorites are here).

To start, there are some pantry essentials that you should have on hand to get going. According to Suzy Karadsheh, founder and chef at The Mediterranean Dish and an expert in Mediterranean eating, there are four crucial categories of ingredients to grab: extra-virgin olive oil, shelf-stable vegetarian building blocks, frozen seafood, and a variety of spices and herbs (for a more detailed breakdown of her recommendations, head here).

As the diet's popularity has continued to boom, cookbooks have hit shelves focusing on adopting this eating style. We asked dietitians and nutritionists for their favorite titles, and there's plenty to choose from—you can find those here.

The truth is, whether it's totally new to you or you're just newly considering it, the Mediterranean diet is an easy-to-adopt and super-nutritious plan for supporting overall health—feel free to adapt it to fit your lifestyle and preferences, too.

Eliza Sullivan
Eliza Sullivan
Food Writer

Eliza Sullivan is an SEO Editor at mindbodygreen, where she writes about food, recipes, and nutrition—among other things. She received a B.S. in journalism and B.A. in english literature with honors from Boston University, and she has previously written for Boston Magazine, TheTaste.ie, and SUITCASE magazine.