The Mediterranean diet celebrates natural, protein-rich eating and also allows for the occasional glass of wine. The Mediterranean diet celebrates natural, protein-rich eating and also allows for the occasional glass of wine. This diet celebrates natural, protein-rich eating and also allows for the occasional glass of wine.

This was just ranked the easiest diet to follow

U.S. News & World Report ranked the 38 best diets in the world. Learn which diet earned high marks in convenience and overall health.

The easiest diet to follow is ... no diet at all.

There, aren't you glad you clicked?

In all seriousness, though, lots of you out there are resolving to make 2017 the year you'll finally get control of your health, whether it be changing your diet, exercising more or making those long-overdue doctor appointments. And just in time for those post-New Year's willpower challenges to attempt to derail our best intentions, we've got good news – in the form of a new ranking by U.S. News and World Report.

The Mediterranean diet – an eating pattern marked by lean proteins, fresh fruits and vegetables and fatty fish for meals that are heart-healthy as well as filling – earned top billing for Easiest Diet to Follow in U.S. News' Best Diets ratings. It also ranked No. 2 in Best Diets Overall, right behind the DASH diet, which aims to prevent high blood pressure by touting fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy, while shunning calorie- and fat-laden sweets and red meat.

Israeli food includes hummus, falafel and other Mediterranean staples.Foods of Israel like hummus, falafel and shakshouka are easy to incorporate into the Mediterranean diet. (Photo: Teodora D/Shutterstock)

But let's go backwards for a minute. The word "easiest" in relation to dieting is not something you come across every day. Dieting is one of the most difficult life changes to make. So what makes the Mediterranean diet so much easier to follow than any other?

The fact that it's not actually a diet, but more of a lifestyle pattern, is the key, the U.S. News report explained. It's widely known that citizens of countries that border the Mediterranean Sea – Greece, Italy, Israel and France, for example – have longer life spans and fewer incidences of cancers and heart-related ailments. They also tend to eat less red meat, sugar and saturated fat and focus on produce, nuts, fish and olive oil, with the occasional (moderate) helping of red wine.

An Israeli woman buys vegetables on Jan 22 2010 in Tel Aviv. Research says a plant-based, olive-oil-rich diet is actually cheaper than a typical Western diet. (Photo: ChameleonsEye/Shutterstock)

But just how they apply that pattern varies highly depending on what part of the region they reside in. And that applies to you, too. You can tailor this diet to fit your needs, your budget, your family, your job, your food taste (that one's for you, picky eaters!) and your level of physical activity. You can still eat out (sharing is highly recommended), you're not forbidden from certain food groups, and you're not likely to feel hungry all the time as with other diets.

And if you're somehow still not convinced, yet another benefit of the diet has just emerged. A new study out of Scotland published in the journal Neurology reported that brain shrinkage is less pronounced in older people who adhere to some variation of the Mediterranean diet. That seemingly inevitable loss of brain function that happens when you get older? Maybe it's not so inevitable after all.

So if you're going to resolve to eat healthier in 2017, the experts have spoken: this is the year to go Med.

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