Harvard Heart Letter

In with the good, out with the bad

Fat, carbohydrate, and protein are all good for you — as long as you make smart choices.

The rule for healthy eating used to be so simple: If you ate, you were healthy; if you didn't, you weren't. Of course, that rule applied at a time when the average adult didn't make it much beyond his or her 40s. Now that we are living to 80 or beyond, healthy eating isn't quite so straightforward. There's more to it than just getting the calories you need. Why? The foods that supply these calories govern the health of your heart and influence whether or not you will develop cancer, osteoporosis, age-related vision or memory loss, or a host of other chronic conditions.

So which foods, or nutrients, are best? You know part of the answer: fruits and vegetables. But when it comes to fats, carbohydrates, and protein, many people are in the dark, confused by widely promoted diet claims and flip-flops from research.

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