Most of us know what we should be eatingBy Veita Bland, M.D. / November 12, 2021
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The American Heart Association (AHA) has recently put out diet recommendations. Their recommendations are practical and there is nothing new about them. I think most of us know what we should be eating. The problem is that most of us just do not eat foods that are good for us with high nutritional value.
Some of this lack of motivation to eat a healthy diet may be because we don’t exactly know how to prepare delicious and nutritious meals. Traditional southern cooking tends to be heavy in salt, fat and calories. There are countless recipes that can make nutritious foods delicious and enjoyable.
“Tis the eating season,” is a reframe I joke about this time of year. Many people totally lose control of their ability to control their eating and gain weight. This weight can be detrimental to one’s health.
One of the recommendations of the AHA is to eat a variety of several fruits and vegetables, which are linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. White potatoes do not fall in this category. Did I lose you there? Yes, you should lose the white potatoes.
Another recommendation is to eat more legumes which are rich in protein and fiber, which is associated with lower cardiovascular risk. Likewise, a higher nut intake is associated with lower cardiovascular risk, coronary heart disease and stroke. Replacing animal-based protein with plant-based protein is known to be healthier for patients and the environment because this change will also decrease one’s carbon footprint.
Choose foods that have been minimally processed or as close to the farm as they can be. Steer away from ultra-processed foods which contain artificial colors, flavors and preservatives that alter the texture and shelf life of a food product.
Watch that saltshaker. Try to prepare foods with little to no salt. Salt is known to increase the blood pressure of many African Americans, middle aged and older adults and others with hypertension. Watch foods prepared in restaurants and outside of the home. Look for potassium enriched salt as an alternative for flavor.
The oil that you use to prepare your food is so particularly important. Liquid plant oils are better for you than tropical oils such as coconut, palm and palm kernel.
What is added to your foods and drinks matters. Foods that have added sugars such as corn syrup, honey, maple syrup, dextrose, sucrose and concentrated juices have the potential to increase the risk of diabetes.
Now, there is nothing new said in the AHA recommendations here. You get to decide what fuel you use in your body. Give your body the best fuel you can. It and you deserve the best.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.