(Click on the blue words for references.)
Eat Healthfully: Healthy eating consists of getting the macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein and fats) and micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals) that your body needs to function at its best.
Choose whole, unprocessed foods instead of processed foods, fast food, or junk food to ensure the greatest intake of micronutrients and to help you achieve and maintain your ideal weight. Fresh fruits and vegetables should be eaten in abundance as they provide vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. A vitamin pill won’t provide what fruits and vegetables offer. Whole grains and legumes (beans) provide fiber. Legumes, fish and poultry (without skin) are good protein sources. Fat-free dairy products provide protein and calcium. Fats are best obtained from nuts, seeds and avocados but if you must use oil then consider using olive oil (in limited amounts).
Research and epidemiological studies show that eating a whole foods, plant based diet that contains minimal processed foods, animal foods and fats leads to the healthiest and longest life. (See below for more info and also the Research section on this blog.)
Prepare Food Wisely: Steaming, broiling, sauteing (in water or minimal oil), grilling (without charring), and baking are all good methods of food preparation. Avoid frying foods.
Reduce your Cancer Risk: The World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute for Cancer Research in their Second Expert Report recommend reducing or avoiding the intake of processed energy dense foods, sugary drinks, fast foods, processed meats, red meats and salty foods. They recommend eating more fruits, vegetables, unprocessed grains and legumes.
Seventh-day Adventist’s studies have shown that eating fruits, vegetables and legumes decrease the risk of various types of cancer. Eating meat increases the risk of cancer. An overview of their studies can be found here. The Seventh-day Adventist’s Position Statement on Vegetarian Diets can be found here.
Another review of the literature shows a significant increased risk of incident cancers of the colorectum, esophagus, lung and liver with red meat consumption. This study shows that red meat is associated with an increased risk of total, cardiovascular disease and cancer mortality.
A diet rich in plant based foods and low in fat, dairy products, processed and charcoaled meats appears helpful against prostate cancer. (Arnold School of Public Health Study) (University of New South Wales) Research from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center showed that men who ate deep fried foods more than once a week had an increased risk of prostate cancer that ranged from 30 to 37 percent.
Reduce your Risk of Heart Disease: For a healthy heart, the American Heart Association recommends eating an abundance of fruits and vegetables (4 1/2 cups a day), fiber rich whole grains, nuts, legumes, seeds and oily fish. Sodium, sugar sweetened beverages, processed meats and saturated fats should be limited.
A study shows that in patients with established cardiovascular disease, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and fish is beneficial even beyond drug therapy in preventing a second heart attack or stroke. (PubMed citation)
A study published online June 2013 in JAMA Internal Medicine showed that vegetarian diets are associated with lower all cause mortality. For men, cardiovascular mortality was lower as was ischemic heart disease. A write-up of the study can be found here.
Strengthen your Bones: For strong bones, the National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends eating low or non-fat dairy products for calcium and fruits and vegetables for micronutrients. Adequate protein is necessary for strong bones, but too much protein can increase calcium losses.
Several studies show a positive correlation between high fruit and vegetable consumption and bone health. Sodium, alcohol, caffeine and colas can all contribute to bone loss so their intake should be limited.
Animal based low carbohydrate diets are associated with higher all cause mortality than plant based low carbohydrate diets. Annals of Internal Medicine
Plan Meals with Special Needs in Mind: If you have food intolerance or allergies or other special dietary needs then those must be taken into consideration in your meal planning. See the Resources Page for more information.
Healthy eating can lead to good health. So, plan ahead, make wise choices and enjoy eating the “fruits” of your decision. Happy, healthy eating to you! :-)