Choose a diet that is low in saturated fat and cholesterol and moderate in total fat
Fat is a nutrient that is essential for health, but too much fat in your diet, especially saturated fat, increases your risk of several diseases, including heart disease. Most important, learn to identify the sources of fats, saturated fats, and cholesterol, and make healthful food choices. (See Chapter 2, Fats, page 26, and Chapter 3, Coronary Artery Disease, page 61.)
Choose beverages and foods to moderate your intake of sugars
Some foods that contain natural sugar (such as fruits, vegetables, and milk products) also contain essential nutrients. Others, such as table sugar, sugar-sweetened carbonated beverages, candy, and some baked goods, supply calories but few other nutrients. When consuming sugar, moderation is key. (See Chapter 2, Carbohydrates, page 18.)
Sodium, a nutrient, is a major part of table salt (sodium chloride). It is found naturally in many foods in small amounts. Salt and sodium compounds are also added to processed foods, and salt may be used in cooking or added at the table. Reducing sodium intake lowers high blood pressure in some individuals. Moderation in sodium intake is recommended. (See Chapter 3, High Blood Pressure, page 53.)
If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation
Alcoholic beverages (beer, wine, and hard liquor) are a source of extra calories. When consumed in excess, alcohol can impair judgment, result in dependency, and lead to several serious health problems. However, evidence suggests that a moderate intake of alcohol is associated with a lower risk of disease of the heart and blood vessels (cardiovascular disease) in some individuals. Discuss the consumption of alcohol with your health care provider. (See sidebar: Alcohol and Health, page 387.)
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If you’re overweight, you are not a bad person. You’re simply overweight. But it’s important to lose the extra pounds so you’ll look good, feel healthier and develop a sense of pride and self-esteem. Once you’ve lost the fat, you’ll need to maintain your weight.