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

Breaking the fast

Breakfast revs up the body after a night's sleep, giving us energy and nutrients to face the day. Studies suggest that eating breakfast regularly is associated with good health — and that the timing of the meal, as well as what's in it, matters. A good breakfast should include some carbohydrates with fiber (whole grains, fruits, or vegetables), some lean protein sources such as eggs or yogurt (Greek yogurt has more protein than regular), and some healthful fats such as those in nuts or salmon. Here are eight breakfast tips: More »

Cut salt - it won't affect your iodine intake

Concern about sodium intake has raised the question of whether cutting back on salt could put people in danger of not getting enough iodine, but this should not be a cause for concern. Between 75% and 90% of sodium in the average American's diet comes from prepared or processed food, and most food companies don't use iodized salt. The so-called hidden salt in processed food is a great place to start trimming sodium from your diet, and cutting back on it will have little effect on your iodine intake. More »

Alcohol after a heart attack

My husband just had a mild heart attack, and now he wants to have wine with dinner every night. We've both heard that wine is good for the heart, but I'm worried that it may not be safe so soon after. I hope you can reassure me or restrain my husband. (Locked) More »

Beer belly

I am a healthy, active 39-year-old. I enjoy a beer with dinner, and a six-pack most weekends. Over the past year or two, I've had to let my belt out, and now I'm letting out my pants. So here's my question: is beer really responsible for my "beer belly"? More »

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines

The government has released the latest version of its dietary guidelines, but some health care professionals are disappointed, because they feel that the recommendations regarding sugar-sweetened drinks and salt consumption are not strong enough. The scientific advisory committee wanted the guidelines to say that people should avoid sugar-sweetened beverages — a simple, clear don't-go-there message. Instead, there's a much milder admonition to reduce intake, either by drinking fewer of them or smaller servings. Eric Rimm, an associate professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, was a member of the scientific advisory committee for the 2010 guidelines. Rimm and his fellow scientists recommended lowering the sodium goal to 1,500 mg a day, although gradually, to give salt-crazed American palates time to adjust. But the writers of the 2010 guidelines stuck with 2,300 mg for the general population, noting that only 15% of Americans currently manage to keep their intake that low. More »