As we look forward to 2021, many of us have started to think about New Year’s resolutions. For those of us looking to lose weight over the next twelve months, a brand new diet can not only help us hit our weight loss goals, but also introduces us to new foods, raises our energy levels, and helps us live longer, more fulfilled lives. And yet, if you decide to embark on a brand new diet, figuring out which plan to follow can feel mind-boggling. Trying to sort between the best diets to live longer and the not-so-great fad diets only makes losing weight that much harder.
So if you feel overwhelmed by the world of dieting and have no idea of where to start, have no fear! To help streamline your weight loss process and guarantee a long and healthy life, we talked to a wide range of registered dietitians, nutritionists, and medical doctors to assemble the top six diets that help you live longer. By eating healthy and exercising regularly, you can stay one step ahead of weight gain and keep moving for decades to come.
Read on to learn which six diets can help you live longer, and for even more healthy tips, be sure to check out our list of The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.
“The Mediterranean diet has consistently been ranked by US News & World Report as the world’s best overall diet,” says Lexi Endicott, RD, LD, and culinary nutrition specialist for To Taste. “Rather than a diet in the traditional sense in which you go on it to eventually go off it, the Mediterranean Diet is a simple and sustainable eating pattern that can be followed for life. This eating pattern emphasizes consuming a variety of plant foods—a plant-forward diet, so to speak.”
If you feel ready to take the plunge, the nutritional benefits of this eating plan can keep you healthy for years.
“These healthful foods [and] ingredients are rich in vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals (i.e. antioxidants) that decrease risk of developing many chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s,” says Endicott. “The more disease-free years someone can add to their life, the better!”
If you want to really super boost your chances for longevity, check out our list of 20 Foods You Should Be Eating Every Day for a Longer Life.
Eating less can definitely help you lose weight, but it might also keep you around much longer.
“The diet that has the most empirical evidence in regards to increasing life expectancy is intermittent fasting or even fasting in general,” says Dr. Alexander Lightstone Borsand, MD. “Animal studies have shown that the less often animals eat, the longer they live in comparison to animals fed more regularly. The most notable study in humans followed 2,000 patients after cardiac catheterization and showed an increased lifespan in patients who regularly fasted.”
“Another animal study showed that mice that were fed once a day had an 11% increase in lifespan as compared to the mice fed multiple times a day,” says Dr. Borsand. “This is a significant increase in lifespan and warrants further human studies.”
If you haven’t heard of the DASH diet, get ready for an eating plan that can change your life. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet encourages the consumption of foods that lower blood pressure has taken off in recent years, and can do some wonders.
“The science is very clear that a plant-based or plant-forward diet is quite remarkable for its positive impact on longevity and healthspan,” says Dr. Nicole Harkin, MD, FACC, founder and cardiologist of Whole Heart Cardiology. “This diet is high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes/beans, nuts, and seeds while minimizing or eliminating animal products and processed packaged foods.”
“Numerous epidemiologic studies…have demonstrated that an increased intake of plant-based foods results in reduced risk of cardiovascular and other causes of death,” says Dr. Harkin. “We also see a decreased risk of obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and inflammation. While not all individuals may not be ready to go completely plant-based, working on incorporating as many plant-based foods and #meatlessmondays is a great first step!”
What do Greece, Japan, Italy, California, and Costa Rica have in common? These areas constitute Blue Zones—areas of the world with the highest concentration of centenarians. In order to live like someone who could reach 100, you need to eat like someone who can reach 100, and this diet helps you do just that!
“The Blue Zones have several lifestyle factors in common which appear to contribute to the longevity and increased likelihood of living to 100 years of age,” says Dr. Christine Bishara, MD, founder of From Within Medical. “Their diets are composed of fresh whole foods which are primarily plant-based and also include nuts, legumes, and olive oil. They incorporate minimal red meat with the majority of the animal protein components coming from pescetarian options.”
They do not eat heavy meals late in the day or close to bedtime,” says Dr. Bishara. “They practice socially based eating and have strong ties to their community. This has been studied numerous times as a major factor in longevity including another study called ‘The Roseto Effect’…[ and] they live in areas with ease of daily walking as a form of exercise. This seems to also be another well-studied contributor to longevity.”
People in the blue zone typically eat this One Food You Should Be Eating Every Day For a Longer Life.
“Though it sounds like the latest trend, the carnivore diet is a diet that was followed for ages,” Dr. Rashmi Byakod said. “The human race evolved from eating raw and cooked meat. In the olden days, there was no agriculture, and plant food was the least consumed. Meat foods are highly nutritious and carry numerous health benefits.”
If you ever considered yourself a “meatatarian” you might actually be onto something.
“The aging process indicates impairment of mitochondrial function, reduced antioxidant effect, and increased oxidative stress,” says Dr. Byakod. “Selenium and Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) present in meats have antioxidant effects helping in longevity and wellbeing…Other than these, meats are a good source of vitamin D, omega 3 amino acids, and various other nutrients. Adapting to a carnivore diet can help you meet all the nutritional requirements of your body.”
If you love the idea of the Mediterranean diet, but don’t want to cut our dairy, this diet will make you swoon.
“Dairy, especially full-fat dairy, contains healthy fats, calcium, and other nutrients that are recommended for a healthy diet,” says Lisa Richards, CNC. “It is easy to integrate more servings of dairy into the traditional Mediterranean diet through cheeses, yogurt, and dairy-based sauces.”
“Adding dairy to the Mediterranean Diet could make it more sustainable long-term, especially for women who need the added calcium and vitamin D,” says Richards. “The fat content may deter some people as it adds additional fat to an already moderate fat diet, however, easy exchanges can be made to ensure a balance of fish and plant fat with added dairy.”
“As with any diet, moderation is important,” says Richards. “The foods recommended on the Mediterranean Diet are not shown to be unhealthy for your heart. However, the dieter should make sure they are still staying within their calorie limits, especially with fat content, to avoid any negative side effects.”