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The best and worst diet plans

Tuesday - 1/7/2014, 3:03pm  ET

Beet_salad.jpg
The best diets are those that are nutritious, allow for a wide variety of foods and are easy to follow. (WTOP file photo)

What works and what doesn't among popular diets

Amanda Haupt, U.S. News and World Report health and wellness editor

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WASHINGTON - The most Google-searched diet in 2013 is one of the least healthy, according to new diet rankings from U.S. News & World Report.

The publication is featuring information and rankings for 32 popular diets, plans and programs. Health experts evaluated the diets on nutritional soundness, complexity and a variety of other factors.

The best diets are those that feature a wide variety of healthy, nutritious foods and are easy to follow.

The top-rated diet for the fourth year running is the DASH diet. Health experts like the DASH diet because "it's smart and it's sensible," says Angela Haupt, health and wellness Editor for U.S. News. "You're emphasizing the foods you've always been told to eat, like fruits and veggies and whole grains and lean protein, and then you're shunning salty choices, sugary, fatty choices, so obviously it's very balanced, there aren't any risks to your health and it works."

Ranked No. 2 was the TLC diet, and tied at No. 3 are the Mayo Clinic diet and the Mediterranean diet.

The Paleo diet, which has surged in popularity and is followed by many members of the popular CrossFit gyms, is among the least healthy.

The idea behind the Paleo diet is this: "Essentially, if the cavemen didn't eat it, you shouldn't either," Haupt tells WTOP. "Our experts say it's just way too restrictive. You're excluding entire food groups, and that's just not smart or necessary or safe. Experts are really concerned about the health risks that could arise if you choose to go Paleo."

The Paleo diet tied with the Dukan diet for last place in the U.S. News & World Report rankings. The Dukan diet focuses on protein consumption along with a series of rules through four phases.

The top-ranked commercial diet plan is Weight Watchers. Experts liked the support systems built into Weight Watchers.

"They have that interaction that is so vital to actually losing weight and then keeping it off," Haupt says.

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Tags: diets