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

Sodium, potassium together influence heart health

Sodium in table salt boosts blood pressure and contributes to cardiovascular disease. Potassium keeps blood pressure in check. A new report from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey suggests that — more sodium than potassium — contributes to heart disease and premature death. Here are some foods rich in potassium and low in sodium. (Locked) More »

Dietary guidelines and caloric percentages

I really appreciate the dietary guidelines that you publish from time to time, but my wife and I find it hard to do the math in a busy supermarket. Can you give us targets that are easier to use than "percentages of daily calories"? (Locked) More »

Moderate drinking - and how to keep it that way

Moderate alcohol consumption offers some clear health benefits, but it is important not to slip from moderation into riskier drinking. The Rethinking Drinking Web site has some tips for reducing alcohol intake. Here are some of them: (Locked) More »

Honey for health?

My teenage daughter wants us to switch from sugar to honey for health reasons. Is honey really any healthier than sugar? (Locked) More »

July 2011 references and further reading

Morbidity and Mortality Chart Book, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 2009. Myers MG, Godwin M, Dawes M, et al. Conventional versus automated measurement of blood pressure in primary care patients with systolic hypertension: randomised parallel design controlled trial. BMJ 2011; 342:d286. van der Wel MC, Buunk IE, van Weel C, Thien TA, Bakx JC. A novel approach to office blood pressure measurement: 30-minute office blood pressure vs daytime ambulatory blood pressure. Annals of Family Medicine 2011; 9:128-35. (Locked) More »