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January 5, 2010

Nutrition Tips for the New Year

The Humane Society of the United States

Michael Greger, M.D.

The HSUS

Chances are good that if you made resolutions for the new year, eating better was on the list. Even if you don't "do" resolutions, this list of tips from The HSUS' Dr. Michael Greger can get your year off to a healthy start.

1. The most important New Year's resolution we can make for our health is to lower our intake of saturated animal fat. Heart disease is our #1 killer, for which LDL (bad) cholesterol is the #1 risk factor, and the #1 determinant of our bad cholesterol levels is our saturated fat intake. Meat isn't the only artery-clogger, though. Dairy is actually the #1 source of saturated fat in the American diet and eggs are the most concentrated source of dietary cholesterol. Have a heart: eat less meat, eggs, and dairy—and have a healthier heart for it too.

2. Just because meals may be free of animals doesn't mean they're necessarily good for us, though. Many of America's favorite junk foods, like French fries and potato chips, are humane but hardly healthy. One should center one's diet around whole plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans, grains, and nuts.

3. Vegetables are the healthiest things we can eat, and dark green leafy vegetables are the best of the best. They are the most nutrition-dense foods in the world, meaning they contain more nutrition per calorie then nearly anything else we can eat. Similarly, the healthiest fruits are berries. We should strive to include both in our daily diet.

4. We should also try to stick to whole grain products—brown rice instead of white rice, and whole wheat bread and pastas. Don't be duped by words like stone-ground, multi-grain, 100% wheat, or bran. The first ingredient should have the word "whole" in it.

5. Legumes are the protein superstars of the plant kingdom. Beans, peas, and lentils have all the iron and protein of meat, but without the saturated animal fat and cholesterol. They're also packed with nutrients not found in animal products such as fiber and folate and phytonutrients.

For more of the latest nutrition news, catch Dr. Greger at one of his upcoming nutrition presentations

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