Wise food habits beat food fads

February 25, 2011

Every year, a new crop of food fads gains popularity and adds to the profusion of health information. But healthy eating that includes omega-3 fatty acids, meatless meals and growing your own food outlasts fads any day.

“Omega-3 fatty acids are found in cold water fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel, walnuts, flaxseed, wheat germ, tofu, leafy greens and soybean and canola oils,” says John Simmons, M.D., assistant professor of family and community medicine and physician at Texas A&M Physicians in the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine. “Eating foods with omega-3s helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and improve mental function.”

Meatless meals are becoming more popular, too.

“Studies show that going meatless for just one day a week reduces your saturated fat by 15 percent,” Dr. Simmons says. “With such a decrease in saturated fat intake, going meatless can also help reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer.”

However, not all meats are created equal.

“Fish and poultry generally have a lower saturated fat and cholesterol content than pork and beef,” he says. “You’re usually safer if it swims or flies.”

Growing your own food is a time-tested way to improve your health, and the need for low-cost, fresh food has contributed to the growth in popularity of gardening.

“Not only is growing your own food good for your diet, it provides added outdoor exercise to further maximize the healthy benefits,” Dr. Simmons says.

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