Healthy Eating

A healthy diet helps pave the way to a healthy heart and blood vessels, strong bones and muscles, a sharp mind, and so much more.

Confused about what constitutes a healthy diet? You aren't alone. Over the years, what seemed to be flip flops from medical research combined with the flood of diet books and diet plans based on little or no science have muddied the water. But a consensus has emerged about the basics, which are really pretty simple.

An important take-home message is to focus on the types of foods you eat and your overall dietary pattern, instead of on individual nutrients such as fat, dietary cholesterol, or specific vitamins. There are no single nutrients or vitamins that can make you healthy. Instead, there is a short list of key food types that together can dramatically reduce your risk for heart disease.

Eat more of these foods: fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish and seafood, vegetable oils, beans, nuts, and seeds.

Eat less of these foods: whole milk and other full-fat dairy foods, red meat, processed meats, highly refined and processed grains and sugars, and sugary drinks.

Healthy Eating Articles

Can you avoid macular degeneration?

Age-related macular degeneration can be slowed or treated. There is hope for future treatments, and many approaches are being studied, such as gene therapy and stem cell therapy. For now the only advice to help ward off AMD is to practice healthy lifestyle habits such as exercising, not smoking, controlling blood pressure, and eating a healthy diet. Getting regular, comprehensive eye exams is one of the best ways to detect eye disease early and save vision. (Locked) More »

Fight chronic inflammation and cholesterol to protect your heart

High cholesterol and chronic inflammation together raise the risk for heart attacks, strokes, and related problems. Several approaches can fight both at the same time. One is eating a heart-healthy diet that includes vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds, lean proteins (fish and poultry), low-fat dairy foods, and olive oil. Another is controlling weight, since fat tissue triggers chronic inflammation. Other approaches include increasing physical activity and addressing sleep and stress issues. (Locked) More »

Fruit of the month: Kiwifruit

Kiwifruit, or simply kiwi, is a brown, fuzzy, egg-sized fruit with bright green flesh. One provides about 80% of an adult’s daily vitamin C requirement, and it’s also a good source of fiber, potassium, and vitamin K. More »

Go big green

Studies show that people who regularly adhere to the Mediterranean diet lower their risk of cardiovascular disease, many types of cancer, and cognitive decline with age. But it’s possible that this healthy diet can be made even healthier. New research suggests that making the diet "greener" by boosting amounts of dark green vegetables, green tea, and plant proteins high in the micronutrients known as polyphenols offers even greater benefits. (Locked) More »

Weight-loss diets that keep your heart happy

People should be cautious about weight-loss diets that restrict a specific category of food (such as carbohydrates, fats, or even animal products) without focusing on the overall quality of the foods. Diets with lots of ultra-processed foods or red meat may contribute to poor heart health. But people can lose weight on less-extreme versions of either low-carb or low-fat diets, as long as they focus mostly on unprocessed or minimally processed foods. (Locked) More »

Conquer your fear of dietary fat

For decades, high intake of fat was thought to cause weight gain, heart disease, and maybe even cancer. The solution? Go low-fat, which often meant consuming more carbs and more sugar. But nutritionists now suggest people actually need adequate amounts of "good" unsaturated fat, and less "bad" saturated fat, for optimal health. Following popular heart-healthy diets, like the Mediterranean and MIND diets, and making simple dietary changes can help people get adequate amounts of good fats. (Locked) More »

Depression and heart disease: A double-edged sword?

Depression and cardiovascular disease are common conditions that often occur together. People with depression can find it hard to muster the energy to stick to healthy habits, including choosing and preparing healthy foods and taking prescribed medications on schedule. Three lifestyle changes can improve both illnesses: doing regular exercise, getting plenty of high-quality sleep, and practicing mindfulness meditation. Antidepressants such as sertraline (Zoloft) and other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors help ease depression in people with cardiovascular disease. So can cognitive behavioral therapy, which is designed to help people recognize and change ingrained, negative thoughts or behaviors. (Locked) More »

Feed your gut

Some fermented foods contain probiotics, beneficial microorganisms that can live in your intestines. These microorganisms help you stay healthy, potentially improving your immune function and reducing damaging inflammation. Eating prebiotics—high-fiber foods that are a source of nutrition for these healthful microorganisms—is essential to help these beneficial microorganisms grow and thrive. More »

How much will fried foods harm your heart?

A study published online Jan. 18, 2021, by the journal Heart found that people who ate the most fried foods each week were 28% more likely to have heart problems, compared with people who ate the least. More »

What’s for dinner?

Even people who enjoy cooking sometimes need inspiration for heart-healthy dinner ideas. But there are many options, including those for people who follow a vegan, pescatarian, or omnivorous diet. The two main guidelines: include plenty of plant-based foods (especially fruits and vegetables), and choose mostly unprocessed or minimally processed foods. More »