Guidelines for Healthy Eating

Eating well is important for longevity. A healthy diet, combined with regular physical activity and refraining from smoking may eliminate 80% of heart disease and 70% of some cancers. A nutritious diet can also reduce your risks of developing diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke.

Following these recommendations can make your diet healthier:

Watch your weight

Next to whether you smoke, keeping your weight in a healthy range is the most important measure of your future health.

Gaining more than a few pounds after your early 20's can increase your risk for chronic disease. Middle-aged men and women who gain between 11-22 pounds after age 20 are three times more likely to develop heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and gallstones than people who gain 5 pounds or less.

Fat that collects around your waist and chest is abdominal fat. This fat poses a greater health problem than fat around the hips and thighs. In fact, abdominal fat has been linked to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar and heart disease.

Eat fewer "bad" fats and more "good" fats

The all-fat-is-bad message has resulted in people eliminating the healthy fats and instead eating more simple carbohydrates - foods like white bread, white rice, potatoes and sugar. This switch often leads to weight gain, lower levels of HDL (good cholesterol) and higher triglycerides (a major type of blood fat).

Replace trans fats and saturated fats with healthy unsaturated fats to improve cholesterol levels, and reduce the risk of developing heart disease.

Avoid trans-fat food sources, including margarine, vegetable shortenings, foods with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (such as cookies, crackers, pastries), and deep-fried foods (such as donuts, french fries, fast foods).

Limit saturated-fat food sources, including full-fat cheeses, butter, fatty meats, cold cuts, poultry skin, whole milk and whole-milk products (such as ice cream and cream), desserts prepared with butter, and coconut.

Choose monounsaturated-fat food sources, including olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, nuts, avocado, and peanut butter.

Choose polyunsaturated-fat food sources, including corn oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, and sunflower oil.

Choose Omega-3-fat food sources, including mackerel, sardines, salmon, and lake trout.

It's fine to get more than 30% of your daily calories from fats as long as most of these fats are unsaturated.

Eat fewer refined-grain carbohydrates and more whole-grain carbohydrates

Eat less refined-grain carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice, potatoes, pasta, sugary cereals, sweets, jellies, candy, and soda. Refined-grain carbohydrates are digested and absorbed quickly, which then increases levels of blood sugar and insulin, raises triglycerides, and lowers HDL. Over time, these changes can lead to heart disease and diabetes.

Choose whole-grain foods like 100% whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, whole-wheat pasta, and whole-grain crackers. Eating whole grain foods is better for your long-term health, and offers protection against diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and gastrointestinal problems like constipation.

Choose a variety of protein

Space out your intake of protein so that you have some at each meal and snack. We only use 25-35 grams at a time, so eating protein in excess can cause weight gain.

The best sources of protein are beans, nuts, fish, poultry and eggs.

Avoid grilling often as this produces potentially cancer-causing compounds.

Choose high-quality, grass-fed red meat when possible. Limit to 1-2, 3-4 oz servings per week.

Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits

Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables can lower your blood pressure, decrease your risk of having a heart attack or stroke, help protect against a variety of cancers, and limit your chances of developing age-related problems such as cataracts.

A healthy goal is to eat 3 fruits and 5 vegetables each day, which translates into 3 pieces of fruit and 2-3 cups of vegetables.

Starchy Vegetables like potatoes, peas, corn, winter squash and sweet potatoes are high in carbohydrate. Make sure to eat these in place of other carbohydrates like pasta and rice, not in addition to, and have a non-starchy vegetable as well.

Non-starchy vegetables include tomatoes, carrots, eggplant, mushrooms, broccoli, celery, bell peppers, and zucchini.- Fruits and vegetables offer a plethora of vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients.

If you consume alcohol, do so in moderation

Moderate alcohol consumption lowers the rate of heart disease.

Moderate drinking is defined as 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men, with 1 drink equal to:

  • 12 oz. beer
  • 5 oz. wine
  • 1 1/2 oz. liquor

Alcohol's effects depend upon the dose. Moderate alcohol intake can be beneficial by increasing HDL and making platelets less "sticky", thus reducing risk for clotting. More than moderate alcohol can eventually destroy the liver, lead to various cancers, increase blood pressure, weaken the heart muscle and harm fetuses.

Abstaining from alcohol 5 days per week, and then drinking 5-10 drinks on the weekend is not considered moderate drinking.

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