Healthy Good Carb Lifestyle Blogging

The Best Diet of 2019: Nutrition and Health Experts Name Mediterranean #1 Diet Overall

By:  Noelle DeSantis, MS, RDN

On: January 15, 2019

The nutrition experts have convened, and the results are in for the top diet of 2019!

While I am not a big fan of the “D” word, many people want to know what the best diet is. As a registered dietitian, I like to focus on overall dietary patterns and lifestyle choices for improving or maintaining health, instead of a specific diet. This includes choosing nutrient dense foods that will keep your blood sugar stable, and promote health. For the many people out there that want an answer to the best diet question, you’re in luck! Every year, U.S. News’ annual rankings are done to do just that.

 

This year, 41 diets were analyzed and reviewed by nationally recognized experts in nutrition, diet, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and food psychology. These diets are ranked in 9 different categories; Best Diet Overall, Best Commercial Diets, Best weight-loss (both long term and short term), Best Diabetes Diet, Best Heart Healthy diet, and best diet for healthy eating. You can read the full report here.

Try our Mediterranean inspired recipe below : Eggplant Lasagna with Holista Spaghetti!

The Mediterranean Diet Came in at #1 For Best Diet Overall

It also came in #1 for Best Diabetes Diet, Best Diet for Healthy Eating, Best Heart Healthy, Best Plant Based, and Easiest to follow.

Here is a recap of the categories the Mediterranean Diet took the number one spot:

The Mediterranean Diet:

  • Best Diet Overall

  • Best Diabetes Diet

  • Best Diet for Healthy Eating

  • Best Heart Healthy

  • Best Plant Based

  • Easiest to Follow

What Is "THE" Mediterranean Diet?

I love this question, because it is in line with my feelings about the “D” word. Just as there is no one size fits all diet, there is also no rigid Mediterranean diet. Instead it is based on dietary patterns that are shared among the people that live in the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. The dietary pattern emphasizes a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, breads, pastas, beans, herbs, spices, nuts, olive oil and other healthy fats. Olive oil as well as the fresh herbs are rich in bioactive compounds that promote health and have anti-inflammatory effects. The dietary pattern also includes wine, dairy foods, and eggs in moderation. Fish and seafood is consumed at least twice a week in coastal areas. Sugar, sugar sweetened beverages, red meats and highly processed food are minimal. Also important to note are the lifestyle differences. Many people in the Mediterranean have backyard gardens, some forage fresh greens and herbs, and many of the animal products consumed are farmed differently than our industrialized farming methods. In short, the diet pattern emphasizes nutrient dense, low glycemic index foods and healthy fats. The portion sizes are also smaller compared to the standard American diet. Learn more about Mediterranean living here.

One of the great things about the Mediterranean diet pattern is that it includes a wide variety of foods, making it easy to follow. You can enjoy a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables that are loaded with fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. This variety of included foods adds flexibility when meal planning. The shelf stable, fiber rich beans and grains make meal planning even easier. Pasta is a staple in Mediterranean diet patterns and it is so versatile. It pairs well with any vegetables, and a variety of fresh herbs and spices. You can add a little fish, cheese or lean meat for extra protein, and top it off with olive oil for healthy monounsaturated fat. With few restrictions in this pattern, you can eat foods that you love. I think it is very important to enjoy the food you eat. If you enjoy what you eat, you are more likely to stick with your plan.

5 Reasons The Mediterranean Diet Is The Best:

 

1. Inclusive :

The Mediterranean diet does not restrict any macronutrient category. Think protein, fat and carbohydrates. This makes it easy to meet all your nutrient needs from dietary intake as opposed to restrictive diets that may leave you deficient of important nutrients.

 

2. Phytonutrients :

These are naturally occurring compounds found in plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, herbs, beans, whole grains, and tea. Phytonutrients  provide plants their scent, flavor, and color. Not only does it provide a variety of flavors in your meals, all the different colors are different phytonutrients that have beneficial effects on our health. Olive oil is a staple in Mediterranean diets, and it has been found to contain over 200 different phytonutrients! Phytonutrients are associated with decreased risk of cancer, reduced inflammation, improved gut health, liver health and others. They are most beneficial when consumed in combination as opposed to focusing on a single phytonutrient.

 

3. Fiber :

The foods emphasized in a Mediterranean dietary pattern are sources of fiber. Whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables all provide some fiber. Fiber is essential to a healthy diet, it helps regulate blood sugar, reduces risk of heart disease, promotes regular bowel function, removes toxic waste, and provides fuel for the bacteria in our gut. The bacteria in our gut digest fiber and produce short chain fatty acids, neurotransmitters, vitamin K, and biotin to name a few. The short chain fatty acids produced provide fuel for the cells of our digestive tract, and they promote genes that protect against neurodegeneration!2 If that is not enough to convince you, keep reading!

 

4. Healthy Fats :

Fat is an essential nutrient needed for functions in the body and cellular structure. Some fats are called essential fatty acids because our bodies can’t make these, which is why it is important to eat foods such as nuts, seeds, oils and fatty fish that will provide these fats. Fat has functions in addition to the well known energy stores, and insulation. It helps us absorb fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K), provides cellular integrity, promotes vision health, brain health, and immune health. The Mediterranean diet is full of unsaturated fats (Monunsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids) which are the fats that promote health.

 

5. Low Glycemic Index (GI) :

Many of the carbohydrate foods included in the Mediterranean diet have a low GI. This means they have a smaller impact on blood sugar. Fiber rich foods have a lower GI than carbohydrate foods with the same amount of carbohydrates. These fiber rich carbs include beans, legumes, and whole grains. Not only are high fiber carbs low glycemic, researchers in Italy found some staples typically consumed in the Mediterranean to be lower glycemic. The researchers compared blood glucose response to carbohydrate-rich foods typically consumed in the Mediterranean area. They found that spaghetti and potato dumplings had significantly reduced blood sugar response compared to white bread and toast.1 Spaghetti is a low glycemic food, and it is a staple in Mediterranean diets, along with fresh fruits and vegetables many of which are also low GI foods. Low GI foods and lifestyle help regulate blood sugar, and insulin levels. This can be very helpful for those living with diabetes. While food with lower GI does help regulate blood sugar, it does not mean you should double down on your serving sizes. That will defeat the purpose of choosing low GI foods. You want to have better control of your blood sugar, so the lower the GI the better control you will have, but the portion size should remain appropriate! In addition to regulating blood sugar, low GI diets have also been found to be beneficial for sustained energy, weight loss, decreasing risk of neurodegeneration, and reducing inflammation.

 

Mediterranean eating styles can help you lose and maintain weight, control diabetes, promote heart and brain health all while allowing you to enjoy a wide variety of delicious foods. Holista Spaghetti has added whole food ingredients that make the Glycemic Index even lower than traditional spaghetti.It has a glycemic index of 38, and is certified low GI by the Glycemic Index Foundation. Since the Best Diet is revealed in January, I have decided to share a Mediterranean comfort food staple to warm you up during the cool winter months, Lasagna! This lasagna is noodle-less, making a perfect pairing with Holista Spaghetti. 

Mediterranean Inspired Recipe : Eggplant Lasagna with Holista Spaghetti

Makes 8 Servings

What you Need:

16 oz Holista Spaghetti

3 Eggplant, sliced

1 package chopped, frozen spinach (defrosted)

4 Eggs

1 ½ cup Ricotta cheese

1 cup shredded mozzarella

½ cup parmesan cheese

½ cup fresh parsley, chopped

½ tbsp. dried oregano

½ tbsp. garlic powder

½ tbsp. black pepper

25 oz low sodium Marinara

What you Need to Do:

1. Pre-heat oven to 450° F

Using olive oil, lightly oil 2 baking sheets and a 9 x 13 baking dish

2. Arrange eggplant slices on baking sheets, sprinkle salt and pepper, then bake for 10 minutes.

3. While the eggplant bakes, squeeze excess liquid from spinach.

In a medium size bowl whisk eggs, and then stir in ricotta, Parmesan and spinach.

4. Now to build the eggplant lasagna! Start with one layer of marinara on the bottom. Then lay 1/2 the eggplant slices across the bottom of the baking dish. Next spread spinach & cheese mix over eggplant. Top with the rest of the eggplant. Pour marinara over the top, and return to 450° F oven for 15 minutes.

5. Sprinkle Mozarella over the top and return to 450 ° F oven for 10 minutes.

6. While the lasagna finishes cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place Holista Spaghetti in the boiling water and cook for 3 minutes.

7. Let the lasagna stand 10 minutes before serving. (If you can wait).

8. Enjoy with your Holista Spaghetti!

Try it with a glass of Sicilian red like Nero d'Avola

I would like to leave you with a quote from one of my favorite nutrition experts to follow:

 

“You don’t have to eat pasta to be healthy, but you can. And since you can, why wouldn’t you!”

-Dr.David Katz

 Yale University

Nutrition Information

Calories 462  |  Carbs 61 g  |  Fat 14 g  |  Protein 25 g 

Cholesterol 130 mg  |   Sodium 347 mg  |  Sugars 10 g  |  Fiber 11 g

I truly hope you enjoy this recipe and share it with others. Share it over laughs, conversation and connecting with people.

-Noelle

If you would like to read more detail about some of the things mentioned.

Sources:

1. G, Riccardi, Clemente G, and Giacco R. "Glycemic Index of Local Foods and Diets: The Mediterranean Experience." Nutrition Reviews, vol. 61, no. Supplement 1, 2003, pp. 56-60

2. Bourassa, Megan W., et al. "Butyrate, Neuroepigenetics and the Gut Microbiome: Can a High Fiber Diet Improve Brain Health?" Neuroscience Letters, vol. 625, 2016, pp. 56-63.