For Healthy Living, Eat What Matters Most

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They come and they go: The lemonade diet, the cabbage soup diet, Atkins, Scarsdale, Slimfast, the grapefruit diet -- even the chocolate diet. Fad diets are popular because you do lose weight at first, but they're nearly impossible to stick to, so you gain back the weight.

Nutritionist Joy Bauer has been dishing-out weight loss advice on television and in her new book. She says the diet that you can and should stick to for the rest of your life is one that promotes overall good health.

Food that Promotes Health

"You don't want foods that are gonna help you lose weight but then they're going to elevate your cholesterol, and your blood pressure and give you headaches and leave you feeling cranky," Bauer said.

Click the player to watch the report from CBN News Medical Reporter Lorie Johnson followed by comments from Pat Robertson.

"So the quality of what you eat, lean proteins, lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, high fiber, whole grains -- those are the right foods that you want to be eating throughout the day that will leave you feeling energetic, empowered, while the weight comes off."

Aim for nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day, which sounds like a lot, but really, it's just a cup and a half of veggies at lunch and again at dinner and two fruit snacks.

But what kind? The best cancer-fighting foods are colorful. The brighter the better: Red bell pepper, blueberries, strawberries, broccoli. Get a gorgeous complexion with beta carotene, like spinach, kale, carrots, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin.

Healthy Hearts Need Omega-3s

"You can buy canned pumpkin and mix it with vanilla nonfat yogurt and it's delicious and terrific for your skin," Bauer said.

And for your heart, the best foods are omega-3 fats.

"Fatty fish like wild salmon, sardines are loaded and they're also nice and inexpensive when you buy them in the can in the grocery store. Ground flaxseeds contain omega 3s and walnuts can make a terrific omega 3 snack," she said.

Omega 3s also boost your memory as does some produce. In fact, foods that have been shown to slow down memory loss, sometimes even reverse it are cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, foods like berries that contain anthocyanin, and quercetin in foods like onions. Coffee's good, too.

"Thankfully, the research on coffee is two thumbs up. We find that coffee increases your alertness, your focus, and your memory -- it even reduces the risk for certain cancers. But you want to avoid it if you're pregnant, thinking about becoming pregnant or have insomnia," Bauer said.

Yes! Coffee's Good

So coffee gives us energy -- but what foods give us energy? Millions of people think foods containing sugar, but nothing could be further from the truth. Sugar actually zaps your strength.

It's deceiving, because sugar gives an energy boost moments after eating it, but minutes later, energy levels plummets lower than they were before eating sugar.

So if you're feeling sluggish and tired, cut out refined sugar, fruit juice, corn syrup, honey, and jam and stay away from refined or white carbohydrates like white bread, bagels, rice and pasta. These foods break down so quickly in your digestive system it's almost like eating plain sugar.

On the other hand, whole-grain versions of the same foods are great for you. They are high in fiber, which keeps you feeling full and satisfied. They digest slowly giving you energy.

What else should you avoid?

"The worst food that people should avoid at all cost: soda. Soda is just empty calories -- pure sugar and if you can imagine, you trim one 20-ounce soda off each and every day at the end of a year you have saved 125 straight cups of sugar from entering your body and you can potentially lose 26 pounds just from that one tip," she said.

Soda, Fruit Juice, Sports Drinks

And stay away from soda's cousins: fruit juices and sports drinks. Only drink water. It protects your internal organs, makes you feel full, so you eat less and prevents dehydration which causes tiredness, muscle fatigue, headaches and dizziness.

The amount of water you need to drink varies on your size, the climate, how much you perspire and the foods you eat. For instance produce contains a lot of water so you don't need to drink as much. But generally you should drink 64 ounces each day.

In addition to soda, steer clear of hot dogs.

"They call it a protein food but it's 70 percent fat, so people should work on minimizing or eliminating their intake of hot dogs"

And walk away from anything fried, especially deep fried, and breaded. The fat in fried foods is bad for your heart and makes you gain weight, a double whammy. Baked, grilled or steamed food is heart healthy.

So it's true, you are what you eat. The foods you consume either hurt or help your mood, appearance and health.

*Originally published April 8, 2009

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Lorie Johnson

Lorie Johnson

CBN News Medical Reporter

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