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March 12, 2012

Nutrition Monday

With the wide prevalence of chronic diseases in America, many people are trying everything possible to reduce their risk. While some jump to taking multivitamin and mineral supplements in hopes that they can improve their health and make up for dietary insufficiencies, the fact is that, for healthy people, only natural foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts/beans/lean meat and low-fat dairy, contain the necessary compounds of antioxidants, phytonutrients, essential fatty acids, fiber, and more that the body needs to function properly to its best capability.

According to Benjamin Cabellero, MD, PhD, professor of Pediatrics, Nutrition, and International Health at the Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, “there is no scientific basis for recommending vitamin-mineral supplements to the healthy population.” In fact, some supplements have even caused sufficient negative side-effects to end trials early, showing that consumption of only isolated vitamins and minerals prevents one from benefiting from the complex interactions of nutrients found in whole, unrefined foods.

Ultimately, the best approach to keeping the body healthy for life rests in a “whole diet” approach, rather than individual nutrient acquisition. While whole grains, nuts/beans/lean meat, and low-fat dairy are generally available year-round, fresh fruits and vegetables often pose a challenge to people trying to maintain a diet centered on this whole food approach. Here are some great seasonal options of fresh fruits and vegetables to help you along in the process:

For more information about recommended dietary guidelines, visit www.mypyramid.gov.

Every Monday, the Johns Hopkins Healthy Monday Project, part of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, offers tips for preventing disease and injury, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Check back each week for new tips or visit our archive.