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Proper diet essential to good health

By Veita Bland, M.D. / February 18, 2022

One of the major tenets of health and especially of heart health is eating a balanced diet. You are what you eat. “Junk in equals junk out,” is one the adages we have all heard when speaking of the importance of one’s diet.

I recently had a wonderful experience when I interviewed Shand Warren Coats. She is a Greensboro native; a graduate of Bennett College, who also earned a master’s degree in nutrition from North Carolina A&T State University. Warren Coats is a registered dietician, who completed a Dietetic Internship at East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C.

One of her favorite adages is, “You cannot out exercise, or out run a bad diet.” As we examine our diets to help us take better care of ourselves, we must look closely at the foods we are eating.

Most experts suggest that we consume a more plant-based diet for better health. We know that rich, fried foods are not healthy. We know that using vegetable oil to fry foods is not healthy for us. When looking to use fats, we should concentrate on monounsaturated fats, one of the healthy fats. They can help in weight loss, reduce the risk of heart disease and inflammation in the body. Monounsaturated fats include olive oil, avocado oil and most nuts oils.

Polyunsaturated fats are also part of the healthy group. Examples of them would be sunflower oil. Nuts such as sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnut, pine nuts, flaxseed and sesame seeds are all part of this group. A big part of this group is the Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fatty fish such as salmon, herring and sardines.

Saturated fats are part of the group we need to avoid. That would include lard, butter, whole milk, cream, egg yolks, fatty red meat and solid shortenings.

The real bad group is the trans fats. They include stick margarine (one of the worse), the fats found in commercially prepared cakes, cookies and snack foods.

We would love to see people embrace a natural diet that includes foods as close to the farm as possible and foods that are not processed. It is good to eats fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables without sauces. One of my pet peeves would also be to include plant-based foods in their native state, not plant-based foods charading as meat or otherwise processed.

A Mediterranean diet is closer to that goal of consuming a healthy diet. It is a diet seen traditionally in countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. This diet emphasizes fruits, and vegetables. It includes nuts, grains and olive oil. For meats, it emphasizes grilled or steamed chicken and seafood with less red meat. This diet has been around for centuries.

Preventing many of our health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease and others depend on our consumption of a tasteful, healthy diet. Registered dietitians such as Shand Warren Coates can really help you find a diet that is right for you. In addition, there actually is such a thing as a healthier Soul Food diet. Registered dietitians are one of the main sources for this information. By the way Warren Coats mentions that only 3 percent of registered dietitians are people of color. This could be an exciting, meaningful and profitable career choice for our youth to explore.

Dr. Veita Bland is a board-certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Dr. Bland’s radio show, “It’s a Matter of Your Health,” can be heard live on Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. on N.C. A&T State University’s WNAA, 90.1 FM. Listeners may call in and ask questions. The show is replayed on Sirius 142 at 5 p.m. on Wed. Email Dr. Bland at


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Since 1967, the Carolina Peacemaker has served as North Carolina’s leading news weekly with a national reputation. Founded by Dr. John Kilimanjaro, the newspaper is published by Carolina Newspaper, Inc.

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