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Greek Salad, part of Mediterranean diet

This Greek Salad pays homage to the Mediterranean Diet, which was on a top 10 list of diets. (Tammy Ljungblad/Kansas City Star/MCT)

The DASH Diet, dietary approaches to stop hypertension, has ranked first, again, in the U.S. News & World Reports’ annual ranking of eating plans.

The publication on Tuesday released its annual top 35 rankings.

DASH, one of two government-originated eating plans on the list, regularly finishes first in rankings of diet and eating plans. It’s designed for good health, primarily and for reducing hypertension. Weight loss is a byproduct.

A panel of health experts rated the diets on a 5-point scale. To be top-rated, a diet had to be relatively easy to follow, nutritious, safe, effective for weight loss and protective against diabetes and heart disease.

Connie Diekman, director of university nutrition at Washington University and a sports dietetic specialist said she was impressed that the first six diets on the list were based on science.

Indeed, the rankings seem to refute a lot of the recent, popular diet trends such as Paleo, raw food and juicing. The panel of experts selected plans with well-rounded dietary practices.

“I’m delighted to see that the rankings of the US News & World Reports best diets reflects the science of good nutrition,” Diekman says. “The top 6 diets, all Gold Medal diets, demonstrate the importance of consuming more plant foods, choosing healthier fats and limiting saturated fat intake.”

Diekman noted, while the rankings include 35 diets, the top six, “are great examples of ways to make healthy eating a part of your routine.”

The publication ranked diets on a five-point scale.

the top 10

1. DASH Diet, 4.1 out of 5 • DASH, endorsed by the federal government, was developed to fight high blood pressure. Experts gave it high marks for nutritional completeness, safety, ability to prevent or control diabetes and role in supporting heart health.

2. TLC Diet, 4.0 out of 5 • Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes, or TLC, is a very solid diet plan is the second government-endorsed plan, created by the National Institutes of Health. It has no major weaknesses, and it’s particularly good at promoting cardiovascular health. Experts liked its “do-it-yourself” approach.

3. Mayo Clinic Diet, 3.9 out of 5.0 • This is the Mayo Clinic’s take on how to make healthful eating a lifelong habit. It earned high ratings for its nutrition and safety and as a tool against diabetes. Experts found it moderately effective for weight loss.

4. Mediterranean Diet, 3.9 out of 5 • With its emphasis on fruits and vegetables, olive oil, fish and other healthy fare, the experts found the Mediterranean diet eminently sensible.

5. Weight Watchers, 3.9 out of 5 • Weight Watchers is a smart, effective diet. It surpassed other commercial diet plans in multiple areas, including short- and long-term weight loss and how easy it is to follow. Experts also found it nutritionally sound and safe. Advantages: an emphasis on group support, lots of fruits and vegetables and room for occasional indulgences.

6. Flexitarian Diet, 3.8 out of 5 • The Flexitarian diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and plant-based protein. Experts found it a smart and healthful choice. It outperformed many of its competitors, with particularly high scores in nutritional completeness, easiness to follow and long-term weight loss.

7. Volumetrics, 3.8 out of 5 • Volumetrics earned particularly high marks for being safe and nutritious, and experts said it could have a positive effect on heart health and diabetes.

8. Jenny Craig, 3.7 out of 5 • Jenny Craig drew praise from experts for being easy to follow, nutritionally complete and safe, and for offering dieters emotional support. But experts were lukewarm about its potential to bolster heart health or help diabetics. Experts also noted that cost could be a roadblock for some.

9. Biggest Loser Diet, 3.6 out of 5 • The diet received high marks for short-term weight loss, safety and soundness as a regimen for diabetes. It was rated moderately effective for heart health. Still, experts found it wasn’t so special and capitalized on its name.

10. Ornish Diet, 3.6 out of 5 • The Ornish’s low-fat diet got a mixed reaction from experts. On one hand, it’s nutritionally sound, safe and tremendously heart-healthy. On the other, it’s not easy for dieters to adhere to the fat restriction the diet demands.

The experts also named 25 additional top diets.

Harry Jackson is a health reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.