The 7 Best Diets for Diabetes in 2022, According to U.S. News & World Report
When you have diabetes, it can be tough to find an eating plan that works for your lifestyle. It can be tempting to turn to trendy, low-carb diets like keto or Atkins for quick weight loss or to help you better manage your blood sugar. But are they really the best diets for diabetes? (Spoiler: Nope!)
The U.S. News & World Report recently came out with their list of the best diets for diabetes in 2022, and seven diets made the top five spots (including two ties for second place and a three-way tie for fifth place). To determine the rankings, U.S. News asked their panel of 27 health and nutrition experts to rank and review 40 diets across seven areas, including ease of compliance, likelihood of losing significant weight in both the short and long term and effectiveness against cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Here are the best diets for diabetes, according to the U.S. News & World Report.
The 7 Best Diets for Diabetes in 2022
Coming in at first place is the Mediterranean diet! The Mediterranean diet isn't really a "diet," but rather an eating pattern that is inspired by the traditional way of eating in countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea (such as Greece, Italy, Lebanon and Egypt). Research has shown that this way of eating can help you live longer by reducing inflammation, supporting gut health and preventing (or managing) chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and more.
The Mediterranean diet isn't a strict eating plan, and there's no counting calories or points—rather, there's a heavy emphasis on eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and olive oil. While you can eat meat, fish is the preferred source of protein on the Mediterranean diet and red meat, pork and processed meats are only consumed occasionally. Dairy, eggs and poultry are all fine to eat in moderation. And a daily glass of wine, regular socialization and exercise are all part of this healthy lifestyle plan. Want to try it out? Here's everything you need to know about the Mediterranean Diet—plus, a delicious meal plan for beginners.
Flexitarian and Vegan Diets
The flexitarian diet and vegan diet tied for second place. The flexitarian diet is for people who want to limit their consumption of animal products, but may not want to go totally vegetarian or vegan. The vegan diet eliminates all animal products, such as eggs, dairy, fish and meat. Some vegans even opt not to eat honey. Whether you want to scale back on meat or eliminate it entirely, there are plenty of health benefits to eating a plant-based diet—including boosting your gut health and lowering your risk of heart disease and diabetes (if you already have diabetes, studies show a plant-based diet may help you better control your blood sugar since you're likely eating more fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes).
Mayo Clinic Diet
The Mayo Clinic diet is a new program that came out in December 2021. Included in the program is a database of healthy recipes, a food tracker with over a million different foods and meal plan options to fit your lifestyle. There's also a psychological quiz that assesses the user's "diet mindset," and a "Habit Optimizer" that's designed to help users create healthy habits related to sleep, nutrition, stress management, exercise and more.
DASH Diet, MIND Diet and Vegetarian Diet
There was a three-way tie for fifth place with the DASH diet, MIND diet and vegetarian diet. Though these three diets have their differences, they all place a major focus on fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, heart-healthy fats and legumes. The key differences are that the DASH diet was originally developed for people with high blood pressure and restricts sodium for heart health (people with diabetes are significantly more likely to have heart disease, so this type of diet could be beneficial). The MIND diet is a combination of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet, and promotes foods to help boost brain health (such as berries, nuts, leafy greens and beans), as well as limiting sodium. A vegetarian diet eliminates all meat, but still allows for other animal products such as dairy and eggs.
The Bottom Line
If you have diabetes, it can be tricky to find the best eating program. Jessica Ball, M.S., RD, says, "The most important thing for someone trying to manage their diabetes is keeping their carbohydrate intake consistent throughout the day, and focusing on complex carb sources like whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes when they can. All of these diets can be beneficial for someone trying to manage a chronic condition like diabetes. But the best diet for you is the one that will be easiest and most enjoyable for you to follow in the long term."
Whether you opt to cut back on meat, incorporate more veggies or up your intake of fiber-rich foods like beans and whole grains, you really can't go wrong with any of these diets for managing diabetes. As always, talk to your doctor before starting a new eating plan.