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HEALTHY EATING

American Heart Association's Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations

"What should be on your plate?"
By: Thaddeus M. Averilla, MDAmerican Heart Association's Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations

As adults, we are bombarded with so many options when it comes to healthy eating. Advices from friends as well as from the internet are numerous. These would sometimes leave us wondering, what really is the best adult diet?  The good thing is that the American Heart Association (AHA), one of the respected medical organizations in the world has a list of diet and lifestyle recommendations to help us fight cardiovascular diseases.

The following are some tips from AHA:

  • Eat an overall healthy dietary pattern.The diet emphasizes on intake of a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, skinless poultry and fish, nuts and legumes, non-tropical vegetable oils.  Locally, the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in collaboration with the Department of Health (DOH), National Nutrition Council (NCC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) came up with a visual tool guide for Filipinos called Pinggang Pinoy.  This is a simple and quick guide as to what food to consume in every meal in the right amount in order to be healthy
  • Use up at least as many calories as you take in. Start by knowing how many calories you should be eating and drinking to maintain your weight. Increase the amount and intensity of your physical activity to match the number of calories you take in.
  • Eat less of the nutrient-poor foods. The right number of calories to eat each day is based on your age and physical activity level and whether you're trying to gain, lose or maintain your weight. Limit foods and beverages high in calories but low in nutrients. Also limit the amount of saturated fat, trans fat and sodium you eat.
  • Eat less of the nutrient-poor foods. The right number of calories to eat each day is based on your age and physical activity level and whether you're trying to gain, lose or maintain your weight. Limit foods and beverages high in calories but low in nutrients. Also limit the amount of saturated fat, trans fat and sodium you eat.

AHA recommendationson healthy diet:

  • Eat a variety of fresh, frozen and canned vegetables and fruits without high-calorie sauces or added salt and sugars. Replace high-calorie foods with fruits and vegetables.
     
  • Choose fiber-rich whole grains for most grain servings.
     
  • Choose poultry and fish without skin and prepare them in healthy ways without added saturated and trans fat. If you choose to eat meat, look for the leanest cuts available and prepare them in healthy and delicious ways. 
     
  • Eat a variety of fish at least twice a week, especially fish containing omega-3 fatty acids.
     
  • Select fat-free (skim) and low-fat (1%) dairy products.
     
  • Avoid foods containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils to reduce trans fat in your diet. 
     
  • Limit saturated fat and trans fat and replace them with the better fats, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.
     
  • Cut back on beverages and foods with added sugars. 
     
  • Choose foods with less sodium and prepare foods with little or no salt. To lower blood pressure, aim to eat no more than 2,400 milligrams of sodium per day. Reducing daily intake to 1,500 mg is desirable because it can lower blood pressure even further. If you can’t meet these goals right now, even reducing sodium intake by 1,000 mg per day can benefit blood pressure.
     
  • If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation. That means no more than one drink per day if you’re a woman and no more than two drinks per day if you’re a man.
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