Nutrition and Individual Foods

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Diet has always played a vital role in supporting health. Today, over consumption of foods – especially those high in fat – is a major concern for people in the United States. When we look at the ten leading causes of illness and death in the United States, the top categories are heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. Diet influences the development of the chronic diseases. Taken together, these four diseases account for about two-thirds of the nation's 2 million deaths each year. These causes are stated as if single conditions such as heart disease caused death, but most chronic diseases arise from multiple factors over many years. A person who died from heart failure may have had preexisting conditions, such as obesity and high blood pressure, may have been a cigarette smoker, may have spent years eating a high-fat diet and getting too little exercise. Today, there is a growing awareness that the food you eat affects your health and your whole life. However, according to a new survey, Americans today recognize that they do not need to sacrifice taste to eat right. Rather, they can enjoy their favorite foods in a way that combines the basic tenets of a healthy diet: balance, variety and moderation. People can continue to eat their favorite foods, even if they are high in fat, salt or sugars, but remember to moderate their portion size and frequency. In comparing the findings with a similar survey conducted in 1990, Americans continue to be very concerned about good nutrition and want sound information on healthy eating. Their interest in diet and health continues at a fairly high level.

Despite consumers' positive attitude toward good nutrition, some misconceptions continue to prevail. As in the 1990 survey, two-thirds of Americans believe there are "good" and "bad" diets. Any food can fit into a healthy way of eating. The key is to balance your food choices over time so that your overall diet is sound. For example, when you eat a higher-fat food,...
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