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

5 food and drink fads you can skip

Food and drink fads that claim to be healthy aren’t always a wise choice. For example, water with added vitamins probably doesn’t have enough nutrients to make a difference in health. Coconut oil—touted as an all-natural way to boost brain function, ward off heart disease, burn fat, and improve digestion—is mostly saturated fat, which is linked to an increased risk for cardiovascular disease. And there’s no evidence that adding mushroom powder to coffee or tea can reduce caffeine jitters or improve digestion, thinking skills, energy, and immune response. (Locked) More »

Blueberries may help lower blood pressure

A recent study found that consuming 200 grams of blueberries (one cup) every day can improve blood vessel function and decrease systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading). More »

Fermented foods: Favorable for heart health?

Fermented foods such as yogurt and sauerkraut contain naturally occurring beneficial bacteria known as probiotics. Limited but promising evidence suggests that these foods have modest heart-related benefits. These include small improvements in blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, and blood sugar, as well as weight loss. But people who include fermented foods in their diets should pay attention to what else the foods contain that might be less desirable for heart health. For example, some yogurts contain lots of sugar, and sauerkraut and pickles are high in sodium. (Locked) More »

Legume of the month: Peanuts

Peanuts (which are technically legumes and not nuts) are rich in healthy unsaturated fats, fiber, and several vitamins and minerals. People who eat them regularly tend to have lower rates of heart disease. More »

Fiber: The carb you can count on for heart health

Diets that provide plenty of fiber (about 25 to 29 grams per day) may reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke by as much as 30%. Consuming whole grains such as whole wheat and oatmeal seems to offer the most heart-protecting benefits. One reason for this benefit may be that people may substitute whole-grain foods for less-healthy refined grains, such as white rice and white bread, which raise blood sugar and have other harmful metabolic effects. More »

Fried foods linked to earlier death

A new study shows that women who eat fried chicken or seafood daily have a higher risk of early death from any cause and also specifically from heart-related causes than women who don’t eat fried food at all. Reducing fried food intake is recommended for better health. (Locked) More »

Keeping your weight stable in older age

To gain weight safely in older age, eat several smaller meals and focus on nutrient-dense foods. Examples include oatmeal with berries and walnuts; a salad with spinach, tomatoes, cheese, beans, shelled sunflower seeds, and avocado dressing; brown rice with raisins, almonds, chicken chunks, and asparagus pieces; or simple meals and snacks such as scrambled eggs with cheese or whole-wheat crackers with peanut butter. A healthy weight gain should happen slowly. Aim for gaining 2 or 3 pounds per month. More »

Legume of the month: Lentils

Lentils, which come in an array of colors including yellow, red, green, brown, and black, are a good source of plant-based micronutrients known as polyphenols that are thought to help protect against cardiovascular disease. More »