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

Home cooking with less salt

Home cooking using fresh, unprocessed foods and eating lower-sodium versions of dressings and condiments can help people eat less sodium. Most Americans still consume far too much of the mineral, which raises blood pressure. Other tips to lower sodium include rinsing canned beans, vegetables, and tuna fish before using; not adding salt to the water when cooking pasta, rice, or other grains; and using fresh herbs, spices, citrus juice, or vinegar to enhance flavor instead of salt. When baking, people can use baking powder made with potassium bicarbonate instead of sodium bicarbonate. More »

Seed of the month: Flaxseeds

Flaxseeds are shiny, reddish or golden-brown seeds that have a slightly nutty taste. They contain healthful nutrients such as linolenic acid, an essential omega-3 fatty acid. (Locked) More »

The best breads in the grocery store

Healthy breads are made of whole grains and have a short ingredients list. To find a healthy bread in a grocery store, one should read the ingredients list to make sure whole grains are used, and read the Nutrition Facts label to make sure each slice (or 28-gram serving) contains no more than 80 calories, less than 100 milligrams of sodium, at least 3 grams of fiber, less than 3 grams of sugar (and zero added sugar), 15 grams of carbohydrates, and no saturated fat. (Locked) More »

The bitter truth about added sugar

American adults consume an average of 77 grams (almost 20 teaspoons) of sugar per day. A little extra sugar may seem harmless, but the amounts can add up and, over time, contribute to a variety of health issues, like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Avoiding high-sugar foods by reading labels and cutting out sugar-sweetened beverages are the best ways to lower intake of added sugar. (Locked) More »

Calcium and vitamin D supplements: Good, bad, or neutral for cardiovascular health?

Evidence about the cardiovascular effects of calcium and vitamin D supplements has been mixed. Although some studies suggest that taking calcium supplements may raise heart disease risk, others do not. Low blood levels of vitamin D have been linked to a higher risk of heart disease. But taking vitamin D supplements does not appear to lower that risk. Some evidence hints that taking calcium and vitamin D together might slightly increase the risk of stroke. However, the largest study to date found no increased stroke risk. And there is no evidence that food sources of these nutrients have any harmful effects on heart health. (Locked) More »

Grain or seed of the month: Wheat

About 75% of all grain products in this country are made with wheat. But most contain highly processed white flour, which is less nutritious than options such as 100% whole-wheat bread or bulgur wheat. More »

Rural health risks?

People in rural areas were more likely to die of preventable causes than those living in urban areas, according to a CDC report. More »

What’s the beef with red meat?

A recent study concluded that the quality of existing evidence that red and processed meats are harmful is “low” and advised that people should not change their red meat habits for health reasons. Yet the science community has rebutted this, and international health organizations continue to suggest that lowering red meat consumption can reduce a person’s risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and premature death. More »