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

An egg a day may be A-okay

In people without diabetes, an egg a day does not increase the risk of heart attack or stroke. In all people, eating eggs lowers the risk of hemorrhagic stroke. (Locked) More »

Are your whole grains wholly healthy?

Some whole-grain food products are high in healthy fiber but may contain added sugars and salt, which lower the food's nutritional quality. Look for foods with a ratio of total to fiber carbohydrates of at least 10 to one. (Locked) More »

Watch out for the "salty six"

The American Heart Association recommends staying away from foods with high sodium content, including canned soup, breads and rolls, cold cuts and cured meats, pizza, poultry, and sandwiches. People 51 and older should consume no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium daily. To cut out sodium, read food labels and eat less packaged food, stick to fresh foods, skip salting your food at the table, and ask that salt be withheld from your meals at restaurants. (Locked) More »

12 "superfoods" you should be eating

Maintaining a healthy diet can often be hard to do. “Superfoods” such as broccoli, salmon, eggs, Greek yogurt, beans, walnuts, oatmeal, olive oil, blueberries, tea, quinoa, and dark chocolate can help. (Locked) More »

Blood pressure: What's food got to do with it?

Diet is important to maintaining a healthy blood pressure. One option is the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) plan, which is supported by good medical research. The DASH diet is rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy foods; it includes poultry, nuts, and beans; and it limits consumption of red meat, sugar, and fats. The most effective version of the diet limits sodium to 1500 milligrams per day. Mediterranean style eating can also lower blood pressure. It includes generous servings of fruits and vegetables; whole-grain breads and cereals; healthy fats from nuts, seeds, and olive oil; very limited red meat; no more than four eggs per week; and moderate wine consumption of no more than two 5-ounce glasses a day for men and one a day for women. More »

Diet matters after a heart attack

Eating a heart-healthy diet after a heart attack or stroke can dramatically lower the risk of having a fatal or nonfatal second heart attack or stroke, or developing heart failure. (Locked) More »

Do multivitamins protect you from disease?

Many people take a daily vitamin and mineral supplement expecting to feel better and prevent disease. The evidence for doing this is weak. Research also suggests that taking more than the minimum of vitamins and minerals you need doesn't prevent disease and may actually be harmful. The Harvard Physicians Health Study II found that taking a multivitamin for about a decade reduced the risk of being diagnosed with cancer by 8% compared to not taking the multivitamin, but had no effect on heart disease. A better strategy for prevention is to eat a balanced diet with plenty of vegetables and fruits. Food contains other nutrients besides the basic vitamins and minerals in a multivitamin. (Locked) More »

Tomatoes and stroke protection

Tomatoes may help lower your risk of ischemic stroke—blockage of a brain artery that starves cells of oxygen and causes them to die. Lycopene is a carotenoid that gives tomatoes their brilliant red color, and it is also a powerful antioxidant that eliminates dangerous free radical cells that cause damage to our bodies. Scientists believe that lycopene, in addition to attacking free radicals, also reduces inflammation and cholesterol, improves immune function, and prevents blood from clotting. That may be key to reducing strokes. (Locked) More »

Why doctors keep pushing fiber

Fiber can help reduce risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. Fiber, the nondigestible component of plant food, increases satisfaction after eating—leading you to eat less. Fiber also lowers both blood sugar and cholesterol levels. To fit more fiber into the daily diet, experts advise eating whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, and eliminating prepackaged and processed food. (Locked) More »