If healthier eating is on your list of resolutions for 2012, look no further. The January 2012 issue of the Harvard Women’s Health Watch offers 12 ways to break old dietary habits and build new ones.
For many years, nutrition research focused on the benefits and risks of single nutrients, such as cholesterol, saturated fat, and antioxidants. Today, many researchers are exploring the health effects of foods and eating patterns, acknowledging that there are many important interactions within and among nutrients in the foods we eat.
The result is a better understanding of what makes up a healthy eating plan. Here are five food- or meal-based ways to improve your diet that we list in the article (you can see all 12 on the Harvard Health website):
Pile on the vegetables and fruits. Their high fiber, mineral, and vitamin content make fruits and vegetables a critical component of any healthy diet. They’re also the source of beneficial plant chemicals not found in other foods or supplements.
It’s no secret that the U.S. has a weight problem and with chain restaurants serving up meals with thousands of calories in a single dish, it’s easy to understand why. Watch “CBS Doc Dot Com” to see which meals you should try to avoid — or at least share.
Red meat consumption has been linked to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and several types of cancer (breast, colorectal, stomach, bladder, prostate, and lymphoma).
There are plausible mechanisms: Meat is a source of carcinogens, iron that may increase oxidative damage, and saturated fat. But correlation and plausibility are not enough to establish causation.
Is red meat really dangerous? If so, how great is the risk? A couple of recent studies have tried to shed light on these questions, but they have raised more questions than they have answered. Read more »
This week I’ve been trying to eat according to the DASH guidelines for lowering blood pressure. It actually hasn’t been too difficult — partly because I’m not following their strictest guidelines, which call for just 1,300 milligrams of sodium and 16 grams of saturated fat a day. I’ve been shooting for 2,300 milligrams of sodium and 22 grams of saturated fat.
In 2003, I tried a somewhat different “diet,” which in some ways was more difficult to follow, even though it only lasted one day. My son Jim (then age 11) and I ate every meal at McDonald’s for an entire day (yes, this was before Super Size Me). We recorded the experience on the Web. I thought it would be interesting to compare my day at McDonald’s to a typical day on DASH. Read more »
Do a search on the Internet for “high blood pressure” or “hypertension” and you’ll find that nearly every health website recommends the DASH diet to control blood pressure. It makes some sense: If sodium and saturated fat cause high blood pressure, then removing them from your diet should make it come back down.
But changing your eating habits is easier said than done. It’s easy to say you want to cut down on fat and sodium, but it’s hard to resist a hot slice of Chicago-style pizza piled high with sausage and cheese. Read more »
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