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preventive health services

Nutrition

Why is this important?

Eating healthy means getting enough vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients — and limiting unhealthy foods and drinks. Eating healthy also means getting the number of calories that’s right for you (not eating too much or too little).

To eat healthy, be sure to get plenty of:

  • Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products
  • Seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, beans, peas, seeds, and nuts

It’s also important to limit:

  • Sodium (salt)
  • Added sugars — like refined (regular) sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, and honey
  • Saturated fats, which come from animal products like cheese, fatty meats, whole milk, and butter, and plant products like palm and coconut oils
  • Trans fats, which may be in foods including stick margarines, coffee creamers, and some desserts
  • Refined grains which are in foods like cookies, white bread, and some snack foods

A healthy diet can help keep you healthy.
Eating healthy is good for your overall health. Making smart food choices can also help you manage your weight and lower your risk for certain chronic (long- term) diseases.

When you eat healthy foods — and limit unhealthy foods — you can reduce your risk for:

  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Some types of cancer
  • Osteoporosis (bone loss)

What are the risks?

The experts reviewed studies on the benefits and harms of intensive behavioral counseling including nutrition to prevent heart disease among adults who are overweight or obese and are at increased risk for heart disease. Evidence shows that effective programs generally involve multiple sessions of face-to-face or telephone contact, spread out over several months to a year.

The experts found that intensive behavioral counseling programs can help adults improve their diet and increase physical activity. These behavior changes can help people reduce their risk for heart disease and diabetes (also a risk factor for heart disease) through weight loss, lowered blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and improved blood glucose control. The experts found no evidence that behavioral programs to improve diet are harmful.

How can the MUSC healthcare team help you eat better?

Your MUSC Health physician or a member of our health care team will ask you about your daily physical activity and exercise habits. You may also receive counseling during and after your office visit. You will be encouraged to adjust your daily eating habits to improve your health and lower risks for long term conditions. Sometimes phone calls are scheduled to discuss your nutritional habits. If you have medical conditions that are complicated by your food intake such as diabetes or conditions including the digestive tract, your doctor may ask additional questions or schedule some tests.

Frequently asked questions

What are the national recommendations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Everything you eat and drink over time matters. The right mix can help you be healthier now and in the future. Start with small changes to make healthier choices you can enjoy.

Find your healthy eating style and maintain it for a lifetime.

This means:

  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
  • Focus on whole fruits.
  • Vary your veggies.
  • Make half your grains whole grains.


Move to low-fat and fat-free milk or yogurt.

  • Vary your protein routine.
  • Drink and eat less sodium, saturated fat, and added sugars.

What are the main themes of the most recent Dietary Guidelines?
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans provides food-based recommendations for people age two and older, including those at risk for chronic disease. Its primary focus is promoting overall health and preventing — rather than treating — chronic disease in the U.S.

The 2015 to 2020 Dietary Guidelines emphasizes the importance of eating patterns as a whole—the combination of foods and drinks that people consume over time. This edition highlights evidence about the synergistic and potentially cumulative impact of eating patterns on a person’s health and risk of chronic disease.

Another key component of the 2015 to 2020 Dietary Guidelines is its comparison of how Americans are eating now against recommendations, providing data by age groups and sex, and clear guidance on shifts in food choices encouraged to achieve healthy eating patterns. Additionally, because many factors influence individual food choices, this edition of the Dietary Guidelines acknowledges that everyone has a role in supporting healthy eating patterns.