How important is diet to my health and wellness?

Denise M. Dietz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) last year showed that among 17 risk factors, nutrition was the number one risk factor responsible for death and disability in the United States, with impacts greater than all of the other terrible habits upon which we need to work -- such as smoking, physical inactivity, diabetes, etc. Many would argue that nutrition should be our number one target for improving wellness. The 2013 American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology Guidelines on Lifestyle Management to Reduce Cardiovascular Risk advises us to consume a dietary pattern that emphasizes intake of vegetables, fruits and whole grains; includes low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, legumes, non-tropical vegetable oils and nuts; and limits intake of sodium, sweets, sugar-sweetened beverages and red meats. Many advocate the “Mediterranean-style” diet because it is heavy on the vegetables and fruit, whole grains, encourages more fish and less red meat and conveys cooking oil should be predominantly olive oil. Conclusion: Be mindful of what you eat, every day.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.