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

How much water should you drink?

You probably know that it's important to drink plenty of fluids when the temperatures soar outside. But staying hydrated is a daily necessity, no matter what the thermometer says. Unfortunately, many of us aren't getting enough to drink, especially older adults. "Older people don't sense thirst as much as they did when they were younger. And that could be a problem if they're on a medication that may cause fluid loss, such as a diuretic," says Dr. Julian Seifter, a kidney specialist and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Water keeps every system in the body functioning properly. The Harvard Medical School Special Health Report 6-Week Plan for Health Eating notes that water has many important jobs, such as: More »

Micronutrients have major impact on health

To maintain your brain, muscle, bone, nerves, skin, blood circulation, and immune system, your body requires a steady supply of many different raw materials—both macronutrients and micronutrients. You need large amounts of macronutrients—proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. And while you only need a small number of micronutrients—vitamins and minerals—failing to get even those small quantities virtually guarantees disease. Nearly 30 vitamins and minerals that your body cannot manufacture in sufficient amounts on its own are called "essential micronutrients." British sailors learned centuries ago that living for months without fresh fruits or vegetables—the main sources of vitamin C—caused the bleeding gums and listlessness of scurvy, a disease that often proved fatal. Even today in many low-income countries, people frequently suffer from a variety of nutrient-deficiency diseases. True vitamin and mineral deficiencies—in which the lack of a single nutrient leads directly to a specific ailment—are rare in the United States because our extensive supply of inexpensive food, and the fortification of many common foods with some key nutrients. However, eating less than optimal amounts of important vitamins, minerals, and other compounds can still contribute to a number of major illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and osteoporosis. Hence, concern about "insufficiency"—a controversial topic—is a major driver of both the U.S. dietary guidelines and the mass marketing of over-the-counter supplements. More »

Revamp your snacking habits

Snacks can curb late afternoon hunger and may help people avoid overeating at dinner. Good snack choices include whole or minimally processed foods that supply healthy protein, carbs, and fat, such as whole-grain crackers with peanut butter. Other healthy options include hummus with vegetables, low-fat string cheese with an apple, or Greek yogurt with berries and a sprinkle of granola.  More »

Try the hot trend in whole grains

Ancient grains, such as teff and einkorn, have been grown the same way for centuries. Generally speaking, they offer more protein, fiber, and vitamins than modern grains such as wheat or rice. But all whole grains are better for health than refined grains. Many whole grains also contain plenty of fiber, which helps lower cholesterol, improves digestion, and controls blood sugar. When buying any whole-grain product, to ensure that that there’s an appreciable serving of that grain, one should make sure it’s among the first ingredients listed; ingredients are listed by quantity, in descending order.  (Locked) More »

Dietary nitrate may lower risk of glaucoma

Eating 10 servings of green leafy vegetables per week, or about 1.5 cups per day, may lower a person’s risk for primary open-angle glaucoma by 20% to 30%. These foods are rich in nitrate, which can help reduce eye pressure and improve blood flow to the optic nerve. More »

Spice up your dinner with foreign flavors

Trying world cuisines can add taste as well as vitamins and micronutrients to the diet. But the rules of healthy eating apply, no matter what the cuisine. For example, Indian food is known for its aromatic spices and a focus on legumes. However, it also has a lot of creamy sauces, which one should avoid. Vietnamese food is known for a bounty of vegetables. However, some dishes use a lot of fish sauce, which is high in salt. Another way to try other flavors is by using an exotic condiment or spice, such as harissa, chimichurri, or curry powder. (Locked) More »