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Every year, top nutrition experts, including David Katz, director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, and Brian Wansink, director of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University, get together to review the most popular diets for the U.S. News and World Report Best Diets ranking.

For the 2013 rankings, they scrutinized 29 popular diets, evaluating what the diet is like, whether it poses health risks, how effective it is for weight loss and disease prevention, and how easy it is to follow.

This year’s top diet overall went to the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH, Diet.

Based upon a diet that researchers developed to help lower blood pressure in the mid-1990s, the DASH Diet has a side benefit of weight loss, as well as diabetes and heart disease protection. The diet is considered a blueprint for a healthy diet for everyone. It’s low in saturated fat and sodium, high in vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals, and is centered on eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, whole grains and lean protein choices.

While the scientifically proven DASH Diet won the top rating, the bottom of the list was filled with the likes of the Dukan and Paleo diets, both of which posed health concerns.

The best diet for weight loss and optimal health may not be exciting, but it makes sense – and it’s sustainable, healthful and effective.

– Environmental Nutrition Newsletter