The foods you eat every day have a huge effect on your health. Decades of research have produced study after study showing the links between diet and serious illness.

A healthy diet can prevent heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, some cancers, blindness, and birth defects. It doesn’t matter if the breakfast is a donut or a bowl of crushed oatmeal if your sandwich is with ham and cheese or with hummus and tomatoes and whether the dinner is beef or salmon.

Many other food choices you make affect both your life and your quality of life.

In particular, it is important not to eat more calories than you burn every day.

Healthy today, harmful tomorrow?

Science involves research, intuition, and luck. But even the most promising ideas must make their way through a hierarchy of studies before scientists can draw firm conclusions.

To be considered reliable, the findings must be reproduced by other studies in different groups of people. In this process, the findings of seemingly reliable studies can be overturned by newer research.

This can be frustrating for people who are trying to make healthy choices.

  • Give the least confidence in laboratory studies. Experiments in test tubes or laboratory tests involving animals may suggest how and why the underlying biochemistry might work, but these findings may not automatically translate to humans.
  • Give the greatest importance to experimental studies on human subjects. Within them, researchers control what happens. In the case of nutrition and health studies, this usually means testing a diet or a change in behavior.

Often clinical trials, experimental studies begin on a small scale and, if successful, are repeated with several different groups of people. Controlled tests are randomized in this category. If conducted properly, they are considered the gold standard – the most credible study of all. Volunteers participating in these studies are randomly assigned to either a group testing a drug, food, dietary supplement, or other experimental treatment or a control group whose members receive a placebo or standard treatment or diet for comparison.

If possible, both volunteers and researchers are “blinded,” which means they don’t know who is in a particular group by the end of the study.

Metabolic studies, a type of clinical trial that usually involves a small number of volunteers who eat specially prepared meals for short periods and are tested at regular intervals. These studies are rigorous and closely monitored.

They have effects on the risk of factors such as blood pressure and cholesterol but are usually too short to demonstrate disease prevention.

Prevention of heart disease and stroke

Good choices

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated lipids (olive oil, rapeseed oil, soybean oil, saffron oil, nuts, seeds)
  • Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil)
  • Fish
  • Whole grains

Risky choices

  • Processed meat and red meat, butter, and whole dairy products
  • Trans lipids (partially hydrogenated oils)
  • Salt
  • Food cholesterol
  • Excess intake (more than 65% of calories) of carbohydrates with high glycemic load

Heart-healthy lipids

Choose vegetable fats. Foods prepared with either polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats are the best choice. On the other hand, saturated fats and trans fats increase your risk of heart disease by increasing your blood cholesterol, especially LDL cholesterol, which promotes heart disease.

They also increase triglyceride levels, another type of blood fat that is linked to heart disease. And even worse, trans fats reduce levels of HDL cholesterol, the good cholesterol that helps protect against heart disease.

Research shows that it is healthier to replace bad lipids with good lipids (poly- and monounsaturated lipids) than to eliminate lipids from your diet. This is because only by reducing lipids will you reduce both the level of healthy HDL cholesterol and that of bad LDL cholesterol, and you will increase triglycerides. It’s like cutting down the whole tree just to get rid of some rotten branches. Ideally, you want to keep LDL low and HDL high, and that’s exactly what good lipids do. When you replace saturated and trans unhealthy fats with healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, LDL decreases more than beneficial HDL.

Carbohydrates and fiber

When giving up saturated and trans fats in your diet, make sure you don’t eat too many carbs to make up for missing calories.

If you supplement with quickly digested carbohydrates such as sugar, white bread, potatoes, white pasta, or white rice, not only do they contribute to weight gain, but over time they can cause a dangerous increase in blood triglycerides and cause too much sugar. your blood.

Eat plenty of good fats and protein instead, and get most of your carbs from whole foods, such as whole-grain cereals and bread, and fruits and vegetables. Whole grains protect against heart disease and stroke, perhaps because they contain fiber, magnesium, folate, and vitamins B₆ and E. Whole grain fiber helps lower cholesterol and can increase the body’s anticoagulant activity, which prevents clots. of blood that causes heart attacks and strokes. But fiber can’t do it all. Studies show that even when fiber intake is high, overweight and obese women have an increased risk of heart disease if they follow a diet with a high glycemic index.

Choose a diet that has plenty of vegetables, olive oil, fish, fruits, and nuts but less processed meat and dairy.

How to control hypertension

Good choices

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Fish
  • Nuts
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Foods rich in potassium

Risky choices

  • Salt and salty foods
  • Processed meat and red meat
  • Saturated and trans lipids
  • Foods and drinks sweetened with sugar