Mediterranean diet beats 13 other popular diets in long-term study

A newly published study evaluated 14 popular dieting protocols for various health benefits ranging from blood pressure improvements to weight loss and more. Achieving these benefits was only part of the picture, though — it also looked into how well the diets sustained their respective benefits over time. The study found that after a full year, only one stood out.

Many diets are touted for their supposed health benefits — they are often broken down into various categories like 'low carb,' 'plant-based,' and 'whole foods.' The Mediterranean diet gets its name from the regional eating habits upon which it is based; the diet has been associated with health benefits including the potential for protecting heart health and reducing dementia risk.

The newly published study evaluated 14 popular diets, including the Atkins diet, 'Zone,' and the Mediterranean diet. All of the eating protocols offered benefits, according to the study, which found that low-fat and low-carb diets had similar effects on dieters after six months.

Most diets produced 'modest' weight loss in six months, as well as improvements in cardiovascular health risk factors. However, the study found that the benefits diminished over time and that only one still offered any benefits after 12 months: the Mediterranean diet.

All of the study participants had experienced a slowing in weight loss on the diets at the 12-month mark and for all but the Mediterranean group, the researchers found that the cardiovascular health risk factor benefits 'essentially disappeared.' A reduction in blood pressure was the greatest benefit when it came to cardiovascular health.