Healthy Eating: A Letter from the Editor
Healthy eating is easier than ever. That’s because we know so much more about what a healthy diet looks like than we ever have before. Choosing healthy foods based on good science remains the best known way to reduce your chances of developing heart disease and diabetes and to help ward off hypertension, osteoporosis, and some forms of cancer.
We’ve known for many years that certain foods promote good health — especially fruits, vegetables, some oils and fats, and whole grains. But now the nutritional science shows that there is not a single “healthy diet.” Instead, there are many patterns of eating around the world that sustain good health. They share these things in common: lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; healthy fats from fish and plant sources; low amounts of salt; and few added sugars or solid fats. A healthy eating pattern also includes enough energy (calories) to fuel the body, but not so much as to cause weight gain.
In 2011, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) jointly released the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These guidelines emphasize lowering calorie consumption and increasing physical activity to control the increasing prevalence of obesity, which contributes to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and some cancers. The guidelines, described in this report, urge people to choose “nutrient-dense” foods, such as vegetables, and to avoid foods with empty calories, such as sugary sweets and refined white carbohydrates.
As a nutrition researcher and an ordinary citizen, I’m convinced that eating more whole foods — unprocessed foods with few ingredients listed on the label, if the product has a label at all — isn’t all that difficult. I know resourceful people with full-time jobs and families who, for example, make their own organic yogurt because they got tired of paying the high prices at the supermarket. It takes a little organizing to have the ingredients on hand and the right equipment, but actually putting it all together takes just minutes. That’s what this report will help you discover — that healthy eating is easier than you think. There are many ways to get away from factory-processed foods laden with fat, sugar, and salt.
This report provides the information you need to make the link between food and health. And it will guide you in making healthy choices whether at home or on the road. Bon appétit!
Teresa Fung, Sc.D., R.D., L.D.N.