If you’re like the millions of Americans who made New Year’s resolutions this January, you probably have at least one health-related goal in mind for 2015. Whether it be to lose weight, lower your cholesterol, or eat more fruits and veggies, improving our health seems to be on everyone’s mind this year.
With so many eating plans out there, it’s hard to know which diet is right for you. To make things easier, we got the skinny on 5 of the best and healthiest diets to follow this year:
DASH Diet: Named “Best Overall Diet of 2014” by U.S. News & World Report, the DASH diet has been deemed healthy, safe, easy to follow, heart-healthy and effective for weight loss. DASH stands for “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension,” as the diet was created to help people lower their high blood pressure.
It doesn’t limit any food groups, but instead focuses on a lower sodium intake, a balanced amount of fat, protein and carbs, and high levels of fiber and potassium. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)’s DASH eating plan can be downloaded for free, and includes recipes and other tips for lowering blood pressure.
>> Try this DASH Diet-friendly recipe: Copycat Panera® Strawberry Chicken Salad
Weight Watchers: Weight Watchers got an overhaul in 2010 when they launched their “PointsPlus” program, though the main principles of the diet remain the same. Foods are assigned a point value based on protein, carbohydrate, fat, fiber and calorie content. Your points allowed each day depends on several factors, including your current weight, height, gender and weight loss goals.
A benefit with the Weight Watchers plan — and why so many people stick with it — is that no foods are off limits. They also have a robust website and iPhone app where you can find the point values of more than 40,000 foods. You can choose to do an online-only plan, or if you need more support, traditional group meetings are still available. You can choose from four different plan options, each with a different monthly cost.
>> Check out this sweet recipe (only 2 WW points!): Skinny Fudge Brownies
TLC Diet: the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes Diet (TLC) is a heart-healthy diet endorsed by the American Heart Association as a way to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. The diet focuses on eating foods lower in saturated fat and cholesterol like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and fish. The TLC eating plan is available to download for free from the NHLBI website. This diet is not only great for a healthier heart, but the high-fiber and low calorie foods make it a great option if weight loss is your goal.
>> Try this yummy heart-healthy recipe: Skinny French Country Salad
Mediterranean Diet: Research over the last few years suggests that people who live in the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea live longer and have fewer instances of cancer and heart conditions. A big reason for that is their diet, which tends to be higher in fruits, veggies and whole grains, and low in unhealthy fats and sugars.
The Mediterranean Diet is also a healthy option for diabetes prevention and can fit nicely into a weight loss plan (as long as you monitor calorie intake). The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid, glossary and helpful tips can be accessed for free on the Oldways website. And in true Mediterranean fashion, the occasional glass of red wine is okay. (I think we can handle that!)
>> Check out this recipe, it’s delizioso: Skinny Mediterranean Pasta
Biggest Loser Diet: We’re all familiar with the popular reality show where contestants shed extreme amounts of weight while super-fit trainers shout at them. Although you likely won’t lose 15 pounds a week on the Biggest Loser Diet (nor should you), it does offer a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains, and emphasizes portion control and exercise. The program is available through a series of books like “30-Day Jump Start” and “6 Weeks to a Healthier You.” You can also join the Biggest Loser Club for access to online tools, workouts that feature the show’s trainers, and community support.
>> Try this smoothie to fuel your Biggest Loser workouts: Skinny Blueberry Protein Smoothie