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

Improve sleep by eating right

Many foods can either interrupt sleep or keep people from falling asleep. Spicy foods and some medications may cause heartburn, and they may stimulate chronic heartburn known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Foods with lactose may cause abdominal cramping, bloating, and diarrhea in people who are lactose intolerant. Food, drinks, and medicines containing caffeine make it hard to fall asleep and cause sleep to be fragmented. And alcohol consumption results in fewer restful stages of sleep. (Locked) More »

Meat lover's guide to healthy eating

Cutting back on red meat consumption is a worthy goal. Research shows that even modest amounts of red meat increase the risk for developing heart disease, colon cancer, and diabetes. Red meat should be an occasional food, no more than two servings a week, with a serving size between 1.5 and 3 ounces. Meats that are labeled “prime” should be avoided. Leaner cuts, which are graded as “choice” or “select,” are a better choice. Leaner beef cuts include chuck, flank, and roasts. (Locked) More »

Relief from intestinal gas

Intestinal gas leading to belches or flatulence is normal, but some people may feel they produce too much gas. Various foods generate intestinal gas. Common ones are dairy products, some sugar substitutes, fructose, and certain fruits and vegetables. To identify the culprits, keep a detailed record of what you eat and when symptoms appear. Then try avoiding the suspected foods and adding them back one by one. Over-the-counter products claim to help with gas, but the evidence that they work is not that strong. (Locked) More »

Stop worrying about fat

Low-fat diets are not necessarily healthier. It is unproven that reducing total fat intake prevents heart disease. Fats in fish and plants have healthy properties. Focus on eating healthy foods instead of avoiding all dietary fat. Diets high in red meat, especially processed meat, promote heart disease, but not necessarily because of the saturated fat in it. Foods that say they are lower in fat may contain unhealthy amounts of sodium, sugar, or highly processed carbohydrates. The best diet style is to eat healthier foods, primarily those from plant sources, and eat red meat only occasionally. More »

"Low salt" still the dietary rule

A panel of experts appointed by the Institute of Medicine was asked determine whether people who reduce their salt intake to the low level recommended by the American Heart Association have better health outcomes—not just markers of good health, such as normal blood pressure, but less disease and longer lives. The panel found very few studies of health outcomes in people with very low salt intake. Those they did find were in European studies of people who received an unusually extreme fluid-restriction treatment for heart failure not used in the U.S. Those people did worse when they also reduced their salt intake to very low levels. Some press reports wrongly took this to mean that low-salt diets aren't heart healthy. In fact, there's good evidence that the high-salt diets that most Americans eat are bad for health and lowering sodium intake is a smart move. (Locked) More »

Coffee: What's the harm?

Many studies have examined the possible health risks of drinking coffee and found little strong evidence of harm from even heavy coffee consumption. To stop drinking coffee or cut down, do so gradually. (Locked) More »

How to choose a healthy yogurt

Plain low-fat milk or soy yogurt provides lean protein and calcium without excessive amounts of fat and added sweeteners. Low-fat yogurt is made from milk with 0.5% to 2% milk fat. This strikes a balance between taste and fat calories. Regular milk or soy yogurt contains a moderate amount of protein, although many Americans already obtain adequate protein in their diets. Light yogurts are lower in calories and fat, but may contain more sweeteners and additives to make them more appealing to eat. Some sweetened yogurts deliver three or more teaspoons of added sugar. Use plain yogurt as a foundation for a nutritious, filling breakfast. Yogurt can also be incorporated into other meals. (Locked) More »

Top foods to help protect your vision

Certain vitamins and minerals found in food may play a role in preventing cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. These include the antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E; the antioxidant mineral zinc; the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin; and the omega-3 fatty acid DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Lutein and zeaxanthin are in most fruits and vegetables, especially yellow and orange fruits and vegetables and leafy greens. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in coldwater fish, flaxseed, and walnuts. Good sources of zinc include red meat and shellfish. Vitamins A, C, and E are in many vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. More »