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Best diet? Just what you'd think-healthy whole foods

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Emory Heart and Vascular Center cardiologist Laurence Sperling, president of the American Society for Preventive Cardiology, and a panel of nutrition experts have ranked some of the country’s most popular diets.

The U.S. News & World Report’s Best Diets 2016 rankings took into consideration short- and long-term weight loss, ease of following, nutrition, safety, and performance as a diabetes and heart diet.

The DASH diet was named Best Diet Overall, while the new MIND diet came in at second overall, tying with the TLC diet.

“The MIND diet is a healthy, sensible plan supported by science,” says Sperling. “It takes two proven diets—DASH and Mediterranean— and promotes foods in each that specifically affect brain health.” These foods include green leafy vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil, and wine. The MIND diet recommends avoiding foods from five unhealthy groups: red meats, butter and stick margarine, cheeses, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food.

Sperling offers three key things to remember:

1 Find a diet you can maintain. The more restrictive a diet, the less likely a person can adhere to it long-term. While fad diets or diets very low in fat or very low in carbs have short-term potential benefits, they are difficult to follow over time.

2 Make your diet part of a larger, healthier lifestyle. The word “diet” comes from the Latin word “dieta,” which really means a way of life, not just a way of eating. Healthy, well-proportioned eating, walking or physical activity on most days of the week, keeping an ideal body weight—maintaining these behaviors is key throughout your life.

3 Balanced diets focus on healthy fats and healthy proteins. Fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy are good choices, as are lots of fish, nuts, seeds, and legumes. Unprocessed carbohydrates can be included in small portions. Then, sparingly, things like sweets, alcohol, and meats.

For more information on Best Diets 2016, go to health.usnews.com/best-diet

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