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An increasing number of Americans are being diagnosed with serious health conditions, some of which could be prevented or improved by eating a healthier diet.

Many illnesses are the result of poor eating habits.  Research has shown that eating more nutritious foods can improve one’s health says Kelly Powell, registered dietitian at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.

SOUND BITE:  “So many diseases are affected by directly by what we eat or how much we eat. Blood sugar and diabetes is affected.   Blood pressure and hypertension can be affected.  Heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, dental health, all of those things are affected by what we eat or what we don’t eat.”

To get started eating right, Powell suggests putting together a plan that includes colorful fruits and vegetables as well as lean meats and fish.   She advises choosing darker salad greens such a spinach or romaine lettuce as well as other colorful foods like carrots and sweet potatoes.

SOUND BITE:   “The  darker, richer color usually the more nutrition you’re going to get.  But you do want to have a very colorful plate and really strive to have several different colors at every meal.  Maybe have tomatoes, some corn, some protein and broccoli.”

Powell also suggests adding whole grains and some low-fat dairy products such as a low-fat yogurt to your diet.  Anyone who needs help in choosing the best foods for their specific health condition should ask their primary care physician to recommend a registered dietitian.

This is Ruth Slottag at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.