"New Year, New You" is a phrase we seem to be hearing a lot at the moment. But if you're anything like us, between fish and chips at the beach and beersies in the backyard, that total health and fitness overhaul you had in mind for 2019 may already be feeling out of reach.

But a new report that lists the best diets for us makes achieving some health goals seem somewhat possible.

Killing old habits, drinking less alcohol or learning a new skill are popular new year's resolutions, but according to a poll by the UK government, the most common ones centre around weight, fitness and diet changes.

The US News & World Report gathered a panel of experts, including nutritionists and dietary consultants, to score diets across seven categories.


According to the findings, these are the top 10.

1. Mediterranean diet

Chatter surrounding the Mediterranean diet has always been prevalent - and for good reason. Studies have found that this way of life could be extremely effective.

Originating in countries including Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal where a low saturated fat intake is common, the diet is rooted in plenty of olive oil, nuts and oily fish. These make up mono-unsaturated fats which improve heart and circulatory health.

Research shows those who partake in this diet have improved digestion, increased cognitive function, can lose weight, are less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes and there is a growing belief it can help reduce the risk of depression, too.

Is this the proof you need to pull a Donna from Mamma Mia and run away to Greece?

2. DASH diet

In second place is the lesser known, but chart-topping for the last eight years (and first-equal with the Med diet last year), DASH diet.

The foods consumed in the guidelines of this diet assist in lowering the threat of hypertension (high blood pressure) which, according to The Southern Cross Medical Care Society NZ, affects up to one in five Kiwis.

DASH promotes foods with particular nutrients holding high blood-deflating properties. That means potassium, calcium, protein and fibre which translate to stuff we already know we should eat: fruit and veg, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy.


The diet also advises against foods high in saturated fats. The consumption of salt is capped at 2300 milligrams per day, which is the recommended amount as noted by the NZ Nutrition Association.

Goodbye salty goodness ...

3. The Flexitarian diet

The term flexitarian means to cut down on - but not totally eschew - meat and dairy. Us Kiwis are traditionally a hunting nation and this diet allows you to consume meat when you want it, but change the focus of your meals to more plant-based. So up the fruit, vegetables and whole grains but know that your whole world won't collapse, nor will you suddenly pack on the pounds, if you dabble in a bit of steak once in a while.

That kind of flexibility makes the concept of dieting a little less daunting, right?

As well as better overall health, a lower rate of diabetes, heart disease and cancer, there are also encouraging environmental benefits.

4. MIND diet

The MIND Diet (Mediterranean Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) is a mashup of the leading two diets, honing in on the specific foods believed to be beneficial for mental health.

While the cure for dementia has not yet been found, it's thought that berries, green leafy veg, nuts, olive oil, whole grains, fish and poultry all help. The best part? A glass of red wine a day is allowed, too.

The MIND diet consists of foods good for the brain, including a maximum of one glass of red wine a day too. Photo / Getty Images
The MIND diet consists of foods good for the brain, including a maximum of one glass of red wine a day too. Photo / Getty Images

5. Weight Watchers

Believe it or not, Oprah and her diet are still relevant. In fact, this diet comes first in the weight loss category. The plan works on a points system, with each food or drink item being given a value. There are 200 foods worth zero points (good) - think fruit and veg. In-person and online guidance are also proven to up the success rate of this diet.

6. Mayo Clinic diet

This approach is based around a food pyramid, with fruit, veg and whole grains advised (they have a low energy density, which means you can consume more while consuming fewer calories). The clinic claims participants should lose around two to four kilos in a fortnight.

"Weight loss and a healthier lifestyle go hand in hand on the Mayo Clinic Diet," according to the US News & World Report.

7. Volumetrics diet

This diet also emphasises its positive impact on diabetes and heart disease, while also focusing on energy density. Volumetrics involves four groups, from very low-density (non-starchy fruit and veg; low-fat milk; broth-based soups), to high-density (crisps, chocolate, butter, nuts and oil). Basically, allowances for the lowest category are the highest while you're allowed less of what's found in the highest category.

8. TLC diet

This one's nice and simple: The Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes aims to lower cholesterol by strategically eating healthily. According to the TLC way this includes fruit and veg, bread, pasta and lean meats.

9. Nordic diet

Another cultural one, this diet is based on foods popular in Scandinavia. The Nordic diet encourages you to nosh on seasonal, locally sourced produce: Things like elk meat, rapeseed oil, lingonberries, herrings and Icelandic yoghurt. No idea what some of those are? Fair enough, we're not sure how easily we'll be able to get our hands on the likes of freshly shot moose either, but the diet essentially promotes eating fruit and veg, whole grains and fish (noticing a trend here?).

10. Ornish diet

Just making its way into the list is the Ornish diet straight out of the US. Invented by a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, the diet promises you'll "feel better, live longer, lose weight and gain health."

How? By avoiding fat, refined carbs and animal protein... sounds easy. It could be worth the effort as it's said to be highly effective in reducing your risk of heart disease.