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Harvard Health Blog
10 foods that may impact your risk of dying from heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes
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What do those numbers mean? What is “not enough” or “too much”? .4% increased risk? I know that .4% means 4 out of 1,000, so how does that correlate to risk? 4 of 1,000 people who eat “too much” red meat will die from CMD? If so, then 996 people who eat too much red meat won’t die from CMD?
I believe moderation and variety are key. Try to make sure most of what you eat has some nutritional value and eat fresh whenever possible. Extreme diets, eg. all-meat diets, all processed food diets, all raw food diets, no fat diets, no sugar diets, – are all ridiculous.
My understanding is that the number means the contribution to the total risk of dying from CMD. That is if the risk of dying from CMD is increased by 100%, ‘not eating nuts’ contributes 0.4% to that risk.
Every time I read the amount and the number of servings of fruits, vegetables and whole grains that are recommended per day I wonder how this is possible and who these people are who eat that much food!
My husband and I are not big eaters perhaps that’s the explanation. Our dinner plate consists of the entree, two vegetables and a small tomato or perhaps a salad, plus a glass of milk. I choose from three breakfasts: 1/4 cup blueberries, 1/3 cup walnuts and sliced almonds and one tablespoon ground flaxseed with 1/2 cup yogurt or cottage cheese and a small fistful of bought cereal added for texture; or, two poached eggs with one slice of dark rye toast; or, one piece of buttered toasted dark rye with two tablespoons of peanut butter and a teaspoon of jelly. With breakfast I have 4 – 8 oz. glass of orange juice and a cup of tea or coffee, with one and 1/2 teaspoon of sugar.
I eat my breakfast late morning and I have no lunch, nothing until dinner. I can’t imagine eating more. I am 83 years old, in good health, weigh 142 pounds and am 5’3.5″ tall. I am more comfortable when I weigh about five pounds less.
What do you think? Should I really make an effort to eat more fruit or vegetables?
unprocessed red meat (0.4%).
This is so low as to be insignificant.
What doctors call research is generally count the people, count the intake, count the results. It is all correlation because they have not been rigorously trained in proper research techniques. I would be much more interested is reading about research studies done by professors of nutrition with doctorates in in biochemistry.
There have been important studies indicating that too little sodium, 2000mg and less as recommended by American Heart Assoc, means that a person could be consuming too litlle salt with all the problems that represents. Those studies recommend 3000mg plus just like most of us consume as we live healthy and well into our 80s and 90s. Table salt also gives us a healthy dose of chloride, which we need. Cheerio, and pass the salt.
I am concerned with the fruit serving advice. 4 servings of fruit puts a person way over the 25 grams of sugar daily for the avarage woman and 35 grams for the avarage man. Many women would actually gain weight if eating that much fruit??
Nope. Not safe to say everyone has room to improve her diet. And why despite contrary disclaimers assert these “affect the risk of dying”?
I find it a little odd that eating too much unprocessed red meat is listed as a CMD contributor when it is 18.5 times less of a contributor than sugar sweetened beverages (next higher on the list). Seems like it is being unfairly categorized in the high risk behavior group.
This guide was very helpful. Thanks 🙏
Canola Oil is a highly-refined product in which hexane is used for extraction.
Avocado , olive or coconut are healthier choices.
If the authors of this study wish to effect dietary changes, I suggest they address the issues and data raised in G. Taubes “Good calories, Bad Calories” and various “Low Carb. conferences that contradict much of what is suggested here, ex the obviously needed reduction of sugar.
Soon these articles will be updated inline with research that shows grains are unnecessary for a healthy diet and salt is not as evil as it is being made out when consumed in normal amounts disassociated with junk fried in vegetable oil foods. Meat is also being increasingly proven to be ok and not associated with Cardiovascular disease. You can read a book called A Fat lot of good which is medically researched advice and highlights the deficiencies in so much of the diet research that captures public awareness.
Frozen fruit is also a good option.
I think Fresh fruit is good
The article doesn’t address a few relevant concerns. Fish may have heavy-metal contaminants. It’s been alleged that Pacific-ocean fish may have radioactive elements from Fukushima, and Atlantic-ocean fish many have contaminants from Chernobyl.
Other authors have claimed the average diet is TOO HIGH in polyunsaturated fats, and not high enough in monunsaturated fats.
Also whole grains are also high in carbohydrates.
A follow-up article that addresses these concerns would be informative.
The recommendation to eat seafood ignores all of the harmful pollutants that are in seafood nowadays, such as heavy metals, PCB’s, and microplastics. The higher up on the food chain you eat, the more of these pollutants you ingest. There’s also the fact that our oceans are increasingly overfished, so eating seafood is not a sustainable recommendation at this point in time. Please take environmental factors into account when creating dietary recommendations.
I consumed sodium indirectly through various foods. I feel that the healthiest diet patterns is important to reduce CMD. Thank you very much for your valuable informations.
Why, in your opinion, are whole grains essential to good health? Can’t you get the nutrients provided by whole grains in non-grain foods?
John Isgitt, I would like to know too!
Maybe it is the fiber in whole grains that we need.
I eat a carnivore, meat-only diet for my health.
So your article is laughable to me.
Cannot eat as much food as you are recommending. I do eat veggies and fruits everyday, just not the amounts you are telling me is healthy. Bumping into 90 years and not active enough to eat large quantities,
Very informative blog. I liked your examples of substitutions.
I would also advise folks who consume several of the foods contributing to CMD, to start slowing with one food at beverage change at a time.
More likely to become a new habit that way.. Don’t get overwhelmed with changing all at once.
Karen Cohen, MPH, RD
It will be no laughing matter when that all-meat diet sends you to the ER or worse. Besides, it’s terrible for the environment (and your breath). Not sustainable. But dinosaurs didn’t know better either.
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