Scientists studying the link between nutrition and health agree on many aspects of what comprises healthful nutrition. But diets vary so much over a lifetime that dietary studies are difficult, and areas of uncertainty and disagreement remain. When addressing some topics, rather than providing definitive guidance, this book will describe the data that underlies differences in research findings and recommendations.
Most nutrition experts agree that a healthy diet eliminates all trans-fats, minimizes red meat and saturated fats, is low in sodium, added sugars and products made from refined grains, and avoids excess calories. There is also a consensus that a healthy pattern of nutrition includes high levels of consumption of whole unprocessed or minimally processed plant-based foods: legumes (legumes are beans, peas, lentils and more than 100 other edible plant foods), whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. These whole, mainly plant foods, provide high-quality carbohydrates and fiber.
Many nutrition experts consider that consumption of non-fat dairy, seafood, nuts, healthful oils (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats) and limited amounts of unprocessed meat can also be considered to be components of healthy nutrition. Others make the case that an optimal diet is entirely whole-food plant-based and eliminates trans-fats, saturated fats, meat, seafood, most dairy, and added sugars.
Other experts advocate a diet that is extremely low in oils and fats with no more than 15% or better yet 10% of total calories coming from fat—a diet shown to reverse the atherosclerosis that leads to, angina, heart attack, stroke and other forms of cardiovascular disease.
Although Americans are exposed to an unhealthy food environment with too much low-cost hyper-palatable food, we can attain good nutrition by making wise and healthy decisions about what to eat. We don’t eat individual nutrients, we eat food, so our focus should be on selection and consumption of healthy foods that are plant-based, high in dietary fiber, healthy fatty acids, vitamins, and low in refined carbohydrates, added sugars, salt, saturated fatty acids (SFAs), dietary cholesterol, and trans-fat.
Dariush Mozaffarian, a leading nutritional scientist, has offered the following summary statement about healthful nutrition: “The focus of modern dietary recommendations to prevent chronic diseases should be on healthful foods and dietary patterns, including greater consumption of fruits, vegetables, nuts, fish, moderate dairy, and vegetable oils; consumption of whole-grain foods in place of refined starches and sugars; and avoidance of sugar-sweetened beverages, processed meats, and foods that contain partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. Such diets are naturally higher in beneficial fatty acids, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants, phytochemicals, and dietary fiber, and lower in salt, saturated fat, and trans-fat.”
This blog presents opinions and ideas and is intended to provide helpful general information. I am not engaged in rendering advice or services to the individual reader. The ideas, procedures and suggestions in that are presented are not in any way a substitute for the advice and care of the reader’s own physician or other medical professional based on the reader’s own individual conditions, symptoms or concerns. If the reader needs personal medical, health, dietary, exercise or other assistance or advice the reader should consult a physician and/or other qualified health professionals. The author specifically disclaims all responsibility for any injury, damage or loss that the reader may incur as a direct or indirect consequence of following any directions or suggestions given in the book or participating in any programs described in this blog or in the book, The Building Blocks of Health––How to Optimize Your Health with a Lifestyle Checklist (available in print or downloaded at Amazon). Copyright 2020 by J. Joseph Speidel,