Ditch the dough­nut, eat more fruit and veg­gies

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL - Keri Bush is the Chest Pain Co­or­di­na­tor at Polk Med­i­cal Cen­ter. By Keri Bush Polk Med­i­cal Cen­ter

You are what you eat, as the old say­ing goes. While that may seem like an over­sim­pli­fi­ca­tion, there is plenty of sci­en­tific ev­i­dence that shows eat­ing that dough­nut is not a wise choice. Mean­while, pick­ing broiled fish over the fried cat­fish is a step in the right di­rec­tion.

Eat­ing well and wisely can help you in the bat­tle against car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, di­a­betes and obe­sity. Ge­net­ics may play a role in the de­vel­op­ment of all three, but main­tain­ing a healthy diet can sig­nif­i­cantly im­prove your chances of stay­ing healthy.

Most Amer­i­cans eat food that is too high in sugar, too high in fat and too high in calo­ries. It is rec­om­mended that peo­ple eat at least two cups of fruit and two and a half to three cups of veg­eta­bles ev­ery day, and that does not mean french fries! Fresh fruit and veg­eta­bles are ex­cel­lent sources of vi­ta­mins, min­er­als, fiber and es­sen­tial nu­tri­ents. They are also prac­ti­cally free of fat and choles­terol.

If you have trou­ble find­ing what you like at the gro­cery store, you can al­ways pay a visit to the Rock­mart Famers Mar­ket, where a wide va­ri­ety of lo­cally grown fruits and veg­eta­bles are avail­able ev­ery Thurs­day from 2 to 6 p.m. on Wa­ter Street.

In ad­di­tion to eat­ing more fruits and veg­eta­bles, you should also eat more seafood, and eat fish at least two times a week. Re­cent re­search shows that eat­ing fish like salmon, trout, and her­ring are healthy choice and can play a role in preventing coro­nary artery dis­ease be­cause of the pres­ence of omega-3 fatty acids.

Ex­perts have found that peo­ple who eat foods with high lev­els of 2 of the omega-3 fatty acids, eicos­apen­taenoic acid (EPA), and do­cosa­hex­aenoic acid (DHA), have low rates of coro­nary heart dis­ease. EPA and DHA are found in fatty fish like mack­erel, lake trout, her­ring, sar­dines, al­ba­core tuna and salmon. They are also in sup­ple­ments called fish oils.

Omega 3 fatty acids lower blood sugar lev­els, re­duce the growth rate of plaque that clogs blood ves­sels, help pre­vent in­flam­ma­tion of blood ves­sels and can slightly lower blood pres­sure.

Of course, the ben­e­fits of buy­ing nu­tri­tious items can be erased if you don’t cook them and sea­son them in a healthy man­ner. Try grilling fish and chicken in­stead of fry­ing it. Fi­nally, watch food por­tion size—and watch your health im­prove the longer you se­lect hearthealthy food choices!

Then, of course, there is the list of things you should sim­ply eat less of or avoid al­to­gether.

Cut back on high-fat foods con­tain­ing par­tially hy­dro­genated veg­etable oils, trans fat, and sat­u­rated fat. Use liquid veg­etable oils in place of soft or hard mar­garine or short­en­ing. Limit cheese, but­ter, ice cream pro­cessed and fatty meats, cakes, cook­ies, pas­tries, muffins, pies and dough­nuts.

Read and com­pare food la­bels. To make the best use of food la­bels, first look at how many serv­ings the pack­age con­tains. Then look at the calo­ries and fat per serv­ing. Mul­ti­ply the calo­ries and fat by the num­ber of serv­ings you’re go­ing to eat.

Cut back on foods that are high in choles­terol. Some of these foods are eggs, red meat, and liver.

Limit soda and juice. They have added sugar. There is noth­ing bet­ter than plain, old wa­ter.

If you drink al­co­holic bev­er­ages, limit your in­take. Drinks can be high in calo­ries and can also be high in sugar. Limit in­take to 1 drink per day for women and 2 for men.

Pre­pare foods with lit­tle or no added salt. Salt con­sump­tion is linked to high blood pres­sure.

Ex­per­i­ment. Eat­ing healthy does not have to be dull and most good diet plans rec­om­mend you don’t go crazy and cut out all the things you like. There is noth­ing wrong with eat­ing a dough­nut ev­ery now and then or crunch­ing on some chips at your fa­vorite Mex­i­can restau­rant. But be wise and make those choices the ex­cep­tions to your eat­ing plan, not ev­ery­day ones.

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