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Old 13-07-2007, 02:55 AM posted to
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Default 5 Ways to Eat Better and Live Longer

5 Ways to Eat Better and Live Longer

Walter C. Willett, MD, DrPH
Harvard Medical School
lenty of diets claim to help you drop pounds, but few are backed by
sound scientific evidence -- and their long-term health effects are

Fortunately, there is an eating plan that not only helps you control
your weight, but also helps you maintain optimal health whether or not
you're overweight. This diet is supported by the findings of the
landmark Nurses' Health Study and other important research.

In addition to getting regular exercise, not skipping meals and
staying adequately hydrated (drink about 64 ounces of fluids daily),
follow these five principles...

Principle 1. Eat lots of green, leafy vegetables. Everyone knows that
it's good to eat fruits and vegetables. Produce is low in calories and
provides disease-fighting antioxidants as well as fiber, which helps
relieve constipation and curb cholesterol levels. Antioxidant
deficiencies have been linked to heart disease, cancer, eye disease
and age-related memory loss.

The Nurses' Health Study and Health Professionals' Follow-up Study
reviewed the dietary intakes of 100,000 healthy men and women over a
12- to 14-year period. Those who had five or more daily servings of
fruits and vegetables were more likely to stay healthy than those with
lower intakes.

Important: Green, leafy vegetables, which are a rich source of
vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, conferred the greatest
benefit. (For "A-list" and "B-list" vegetables, see below.)

Wisest: Precook your vegetables. Boil until they are half done and
rinse in cold water. Let cool and refrigerate in a resealable plastic
bag. Precooking doubles a vegetable's refrigerator shelf life. When
you're ready to eat the vegetables, sauté in olive oil and garlic.

Principle 2. "Good" fats don't have to be boring. Your intake of
saturated fat (found primarily in whole-fat dairy products and red
meat) should be limited to one serving a day for whole-fat dairy and
three four-ounce servings a week for red meat. Trans fats (found in
baked goods, packaged snacks, crackers, margarine and many fast foods)
are best eliminated.

But that doesn't mean that you should deprive yourself of all fats.
Olive oil and fatty fish, such as salmon and tuna, are among the most
well-known sources of healthful fat. Other options include cashews,
almonds, peanut butter, avocados and soy products.

Helpful: Make an "omega-3" butter by mixing one-quarter cup of
flaxseed oil with one-half cup of butter. This provides a better
balance of fatty acids than butter alone. Refrigerate and use as you
would butter, but only occasionally. Do not cook with omega-3 butter
-- flaxseed oil can turn rancid when it's heated.

Principle 3. Don't get rid of all carbohydrates. Americans get half
their daily calories, on average, from refined carbohydrates, such as
white bread, white potatoes and white rice... ready-to-eat cereals...
and baked goods. Whole grains, such as brown rice, barley, millet and
whole-wheat pasta, are better choices. They'll give you long-lasting
energy and lower your risk for heart disease and diabetes.

Like vegetables, whole grains can be precooked, stored in the
refrigerator (for up to five days in a tightly covered container) and
reheated before serving.

Best: Buy "quick-cooking" (partially precooked and dried) brown rice
in your grocery store. It cooks in about 10 minutes.

Principle 4. Try underused protein sources. Most people get
significant amounts of protein from red meat and whole-fat dairy
products. However, these foods are also rich sources of saturated fat
and cholesterol.

While reducing your intake of red meat and whole-fat dairy, add more
plant-based protein sources. Good choices: Beans, nuts and grains,
which contain less saturated fat and more fiber, vitamins, minerals
and healthful fat. Fish, chicken and turkey can supplement these

Peanut butter is a healthful and often-overlooked protein source. In
the Nurses' Health Study, women who ate peanut butter five or more
times a week had a 21% lower risk of developing diabetes than those
who rarely ate it.

Best: For lunch, try peanut butter (without partially hydrogenated
oils) on whole-grain bread. Add low-sugar jam, if you like. Other
healthful protein sources include cottage cheese (1% butterfat),
kidney beans, eggs and hummus. Soy products, such as edamame, soy milk
and tempeh, also are good protein sources. But soy has an estrogen-
like effect, so high intakes may increase risk for some types of
breast cancer. Limit your intake to three to four servings of soy-
based products weekly.

Principle 5. Don't forget a multivitamin. The Nurses' Health Study
shows that after 10 or more years, the colon cancer risk was cut by
more than half for women who took a daily multivitamin.

Better way: Skip "megadose" multivitamins. A multivitamin that
provides the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of most nutrients is
fine. Exception: Vitamin D. The RDA is 400 international units (IU)
per day, but studies show that most people need at least 1,000 IU per

"A-List" Veggies

Eat all you want of these very healthful vegetables...

All dark green, leafy vegetables (e.g., spinach, kale)




Bell peppers

Bok choy


Brussels sprouts








Green beans




Salad greens

Snow peas


Winter squash

Zucchini, summer and spaghetti squash

"B-List" Veggies

Eat no more than one to two servings (one-half cup each) daily of
these vegetables, which are higher in carbohydrates and calories...

Jerusalem artichokes




Sweet potatoes


Water chestnuts

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