Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Which Diet is the Best One Overall?

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Which Diet is the Best One Overall?

By: Irina Todorov, MD • Posted on August 25, 2022

U.S. News reviews and ranks the top 40 diets based on input from a panel of diet, nutrition and health experts. They take into consideration the diets’ potential for preventing and managing diabetes and heart disease, easiness to follow, safety profile, nutritional value and ability to produce short and long term weight loss.

The Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet is ranked #1 overall diet for 2022, again. Mediterranean style eating habits is a better term to use instead of Mediterranean diet since it simply describes the way people in Greece, Italy, and Spain eat.

It consists of regular consumption of beans, whole grains, vegetables, fruits and fish. The original study that brought the Mediterranean diet into fame showed around a 30% decreased risk of heart disease and stroke compared to the low-fat diet.

The Mediterranean diet stresses on what you can and should eat:

  • rainbow of vegetables
  • fruits
  • whole grains
  • beans
  • nuts
  • seeds
  • fish
  • tomato based sauces
  • olive oil

While Mediterranean do not completely eliminate whole food groups, it does restrict consumption of sugary drinks, red meat, and commercially prepared pastries to no more than one serving a day.

I came up with eight basic principles of the Mediterranean diet that make it easy to follow.

8 tips for following the Mediterranean diet

  1. Have at least 5 servings of vegetables and fruits a day
  2. Choose unprocessed instead of ultra-processed foods (limit packaged food that has more than 5 ingredients or ingredients that you cannot pronounce)
  3. Eat more home cooked meals vs. eating out
  4. Replace food made with refined grains (bread, cereal, cookies) with food that contain whole grains (steel cut oats, brown rice, quinoa)
  5. Snack on a handful of nuts (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts) or seeds (sunflower, pumpkin)
  6. Eat legumes (beans, lentils, garbanzo beans) and whole soy products on a regular basis – they are rich in fiber and protein
  7. Add spices like garlic, turmeric, black pepper, ginger, paprika, and cumin to your cooking – they are full with vitamins and minerals and make the meal delicious
  8. For salad dressing use Extra Virgin Cold Pressed Olive Oil and Vinegar instead of commercially prepared dressings

If you need help with changing your eating habits or struggle with weight, the Cleveland Clinic Center for Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine can help. We offer one hour long individual consults with physicians or nutritionists, as well as physician-led programs to help you with stress eating (Eating Well for Optimal Health) or to teach you to prepare simple meals (Culinary Medicine for Chronic Diseases). To make an appointment, call 216-448-4325.

You can find many free resources for healthy, delicious recipes and more than 100 cooking videos on our website.

Be Strong, Be Healthy, Be in Charge!

- Irina Todorov, MD

  1. U.S. News Best Diets Overall 2022
  2. Martínez-González MA, Salas-Salvadó J, Estruch R, Corella D, Fitó M, Ros E; PREDIMED INVESTIGATORS. Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet: Insights From the PREDIMED Study. Prog Cardiovasc Dis. 2015 Jul-Aug;58(1):50-60. doi: 10.1016/j.pcad.2015.04.003. Epub 2015 May 1. PMID: 25940230.
About Irina Todorov, MD

Irina Todorov, MD, ABFM, ABOIM, is a Family Medicine physician who believes that we all should strive to achieve optimal physical, social, and mental well-being. She looks for underlying causes of disease and addresses them with nutrition optimization, exercise therapies, herbs and supplements. In addition, she will work with you to address stress, sleep and motivation to change.

Dr. Todorov is board certified in both Family Medicine and Integrative Medicine and practiced for 7 years in Europe prior to moving to the USA. She has additional training in Herbal Medicine, manual therapies, mind/body techniques, and aromatherapy which are used to create a unique plan for each individual patient that is in alignment with the patient’s beliefs and preferences. She treats children, adolescents and adults. Languages include English and Bulgarian.

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