Healthy eating and disease prevention

Healthy eating can improve your nutrition and help reduce your risk for several diseases, including:

  • Cancer.1
    • Eating more fruits and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of lung, oral, esophageal, stomach, and colon cancer.
    • Saturated fat may increase cancer risk. More study is needed about what types of other fats may affect cancer risk.
  • Heart disease and stroke. Eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain products that are high in fiber may lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.2 For more information, see the topic Coronary Artery Disease.
  • High cholesterol . Reducing saturated and trans fats and cholesterol in your diet can lower your risk of high cholesterol and coronary artery disease (CAD).2 For more information, see the topic High Cholesterol.
  • High blood pressure . Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables (8 to 10 servings a day), following a low-fat diet, eating low-fat dairy products (3 servings a day), and reducing salt intake can lower high blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.2 For more information, see the topic High Blood Pressure (Hypertension).
  • Osteoporosis . Not getting enough calcium and vitamin D contributes to bone thinning. Try to eat foods with calcium and vitamin D. Calcium is found in milk products and certain leafy green vegetables and in many foods that are calcium-enriched. Vitamin D is found in vitamin D-fortified milk, egg yolks, liver, and saltwater fish. For more information, see the topic Osteoporosis.
  • Spina bifida . Pregnant women should eat foods that contain folate (such as leafy green vegetables or folic acid-enriched grains) before and during pregnancy to help protect babies from this birth defect. All women of childbearing age should get 400 micrograms of folic acid from fortified foods or supplements each day.3 For more information, see the topic Spina Bifida.

Citations

  1. American Cancer Society (2006, revised 2008). American Cancer Society guidelines on nutrition and physical activity for cancer prevention. Available online: http://documents.cancer.org/6753.25/6753.25.pdf.
  2. American Heart Association (2006). Diet and lifestyle recommendations revision 2006. Circulation, 114(1): 82–96. [Erratum in Circulation, 114(1): e27.]
  3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Agriculture (2005). Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2005, 6th ed. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Also available online: http://www.healthierus.gov/dietaryguidelines.

Last Updated: February 6, 2009

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