By Amy Campbell, MS, RD, CDE
Manager, Clinical Education Programs,
Healthcare Services, Joslin Diabetes Center
If you’re scratching your head trying to figure out what to eat for your diabetes or what diet to follow, you might find some guidance from US News and World Reports “Best Diets” Rankings.
To help answer the question, What’s the best diet for diabetes? U.S. News compiled a panel of 22 of the country’s leading health and nutrition experts, including folks from Harvard Medical School, Yale, Johns Hopkins, Duke and Cornell.
I was fortunate to be among the “chosen” experts, which was an honor for me, because I was eager to add my two cents. What a great opportunity! There are so many diet plans available, and it’s hard to keep up with them all, let alone determine if they’re effective and safe.
U.S. News spent six months researching the top 20 most “popular” diets in the country and then assembled a team of experts to rank them on a scale of 1 to 5 based on several categories, including:
- short term weight loss,
- long term weight loss,
- nutritional completeness and
- ability to prevent or manage diabetes.
The diets themselves were grouped into categories, such as “Best Diets Overall,” “Best Commercial Diet Plans,” “Best Weight-Loss Diets,” “Best Diabetes Diets” and “Best Heart-Healthy Diets.”
Curious about the “Best Diabetes Diets”? The top three are:
1. DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet: Originally designed to prevent and manage high blood pressure, this eating plan is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and low fat dairy (and light on sugar, sodium and fatty red meats). Beyond lowering blood pressure, though, the DASH Diet can help you lose weight (important for diabetes control) and lower both your A1C and fasting blood glucose levels.
2. Mayo Clinic Diet: Similar to the DASH Diet in terms of food choices, the Mayo Clinic Diet helps you to develop healthful eating and lifestyle habits that will stick. As a result, you’ll lose weight, lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, and better manage your blood glucose, too. An added bonus is that this approach also highly emphasizes physical activity.
3. Ornish Diet: The main focus of this eating plan is to prevent and even reverse heart disease, and studies show it can do just that, along with lowering blood pressure and blood cholesterol. The Ornish Diet can also help you lose weight and one study showed that it helped people with diabetes significantly lower their A1C level.
By the way, the lowest ranking diet for diabetes was the Paleo Diet. The motto of this diet? If the cavemen didn’t eat it, neither should you. That means no pasta, no bread, no grains, no dairy and no beans. It does mean eating a lot of meat, fish, poultry, fruits and vegetables, which is not necessarily a bad thing. However, the diet scored low due to its potential for being high in saturated fat (from all that red meat) and because there is little to no research to support its claims of weight loss, heart health and diabetes control.
To read more about the other diets, visit the US News website at http://health.usnews.com/best-diet.
Also, keep in mind that this “Best Diets” ranking is meant to be a guide. The top-rated diet may not be the best diet for you, so talk with your dietitian or healthcare provider about what you’re willing and able to do.