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DASH, Weight Watchers Top List of Best Diets

Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Now that you’ve made a New Year’s resolution to eat better, a new report suggests Weight Watchers and the government-developed DASH diet are best for boosting health and losing weight.

In its third annual “Best Diets” report, U.S. News and World Report ranks 29 popular diets on their impact and user-friendliness, according to the magazine’s health and wellness editor, Angela Haupt.

“Our goal is to point people to the best diet no matter what their goal is,” said Haupt, pointing out how some dieters want to shrink their cholesterol levels, not their waistlines. “Dieting sounds so dreadful, but it doesn’t have to be that way at all.”

Weight Watchers topped the list for weight loss and being easy to follow, while the DASH diet -- designed to lower blood pressure -- earned top marks for healthfulness and preventing and managing diabetes.  It also earned the “best diet overall” title for a third year.

“It was designed to treat hypertension but it’s also effective for weight loss,” said Haupt.  “It’s a smart, sensible plan that’s safe and nutritious and helps control diabetes in addition to supporting heart health.”

This year’s report includes a new category: best plant-based diets.

“There’s a growing interest in vegetarianism and raw food, and we really saw consumer demand complemented by a lot of research suggesting that replacing red meat with plant-based protein has a lot of health benefits,” said Haupt.

The fruit and fish-heavy Mediterranean diet took top spot for plant-based diets, followed by the “Flexitarian” diet.

“You don’t have to abandon red meat,” said Haupt.  “Rather, it’s about making positive changes where you can.  It’s a sensible eating plan, and it’s realistic.”

After years of diet fads like feeding tubes and raspberry ketones, Haupt said that healthy and sustainable weight loss comes from small, smart changes -- not extremes.

“Fad diets aren’t realistic, they aren’t nutritious and some are flat-out unhealthy.  Take the feeding tube diet,” she said, referring to the K-E diet in which a dieter ingests 800 calories of protein and fat daily through a tube in their nose.  “Nobody should be doing this, and you don’t have to.”

Instead, choose a diet that works with your lifestyle, Haupt said.

“If you go into a diet thinking ‘This is never going to stick,’ it probably won’t.  The more tedious a diet is and the more work it demands, the less likely you are to stick to it,” she said.

Best Plant-Based Diets

  • The Mediterranean Diet
  • Dawn Jackson Blatner’s Flexitarian Diet
  • The Ornish Diet

Best Weight-Loss Diets

  • Weight Watchers
  • Jenny Craig (tied for second)
  • Biggest Loser Diet (tied for second)
  • The Raw Food Diet (tied for second)

Best Heart-Healthy Diets

  • The Ornish Diet
  • The TLC Diet
  • The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)

Best Diabetes Diets

  • The DASH Diet (tied for first)
  • The Biggest Loser Diet (tied for first)
  • Mayo Clinic Diet (tied for third)
  • The Ornish Diet (tied for third)
  • The Vegan Diet (tied for third)
  • Engine 2 Diet (tied for third)
  • The Flexitarian Diet (tied for third)

Best Diets Overall

  • The DASH Diet
  • The TLC Diet
  • The Mediterranean Diet (tied for third)
  • The Mayo Clinic Diet (tied for third)
  • Weight Watchers (tied for third)

Best Commercial Diet Plans

  • Weight Watchers
  • Jenny Craig
  • The Biggest Loser Diet

Best Diets for Healthy Eating

  • The DASH Diet
  • The TLC Diet
  • The Mediterranean Diet

Easiest Diets to Follow

  • Weight Watchers
  • Jenny Craig
  • The Mediterranean Diet (tied for third)
  • The Flexitarian Diet (tied for third)

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio