Ornish beats Mediterranean as best heart-healthy diet of 2020

The Mediterranean diet has been eclipsed as the U.S. News & World Report’s best-ranked heart-healthy diet for the first time in a decade, nudged out of the top spot by the popular Ornish diet.

The Ornish diet—also ranked as the ninth-best overall diet in the 2020 report—was pioneered by physician Dean Ornish more than 40 years ago and restricts the consumption of fats, refined carbohydrates and animal proteins. It also emphasizes the importance of exercise and stress management in living healthfully.

The Mediterranean diet, which was dethroned after nine years atop the U.S. News & World Report’s list of best diets for heart health, fell into second place this year after tying with the Ornish method for the best CV diet in 2019. The diet, which is revered for its straightforward approach to nutrition and weight control, still managed to snag the number-one spot this year as the best overall diet for 2020.

U.S. News experts called the Mediterranean diet “eminently sensible” in this year’s report, noting that while the Ornish diet is nutritionally sound, safe and heart-healthy, it’s also not easy to stick to. The Ornish diet is ranked twenty-two on the organization’s list of easiest diets to follow, reflecting its restrictive nature and premium on exercise, but reporters also said Ornish recipes are somewhat easy to find and eating out on the diet is manageable.

In order, the other top diets for heart health in 2020 are the DASH diet, vegan diet, TLC diet, Flexitarian diet, Engine 2 diet, MIND diet and vegetarian diet. DASH prioritizes BP health, while the TLC diet allows followers plenty of carbs and meats and the Flexitarian diet emphasizes plant-based proteins. The Engine 2 diet is criticized for being difficult to follow and “gimmicky” but has shown strong results for people suffering from diabetes, and the MIND diet aims to prevent mental decline.

The top diets of the year overall were the Mediterranean diet, DASH diet, Flexitarian diet, Weight Watchers diet, Mayo Clinic diet, MIND diet, Volumetrics diet, TLC diet, Nordic diet and Ornish diet. The best weight-loss regimens were Weight Watchers and veganism; the best diabetes diets were Mediterranean and DASH.

“Being overweight is just one factor that puts people at risk for heart disease and things like a stroke or heart attack,” U.S. News wrote in its report. “A heart-healthy diet can help you lose weight and lower your cholesterol, blood pressure or triglycerides.”

Find this year’s full diet rankings here