And the Survey Says…

What are your top three health concerns, and how are you changing your diet to address them? See if your responses match those of a nationwide survey.

Heart health, weight loss and cancer protection are the top three health concerns that Americans try to address through their diets, according to a new survey.

The survey, which has been conducted on a regular basis over the past decade, asked 1,000 American adult participants to rate their top three health concerns. Almost half of respondents listed heart health (down from previous years), 31 percent listed weight, and 24 percent listed cancer. Diabetes, lung/respiratory health, cholesterol (also down from 2007) and arthritis also made the list of top concerns.

The survey also found a "significantly" increased awareness of the health benefits associated with specific food components. The foods most likely to be consumed for a specific health condition are:

• Calcium (in dairy foods such as milk, cheese, or yogurt or in calcium fortified foods or beverages) for the promotion of bone health
• Vitamin D (in fortified foods and beverages) for the promotion of bone health
• Fiber (in vegetables, fruits, and some fortified foods such as breads and cereals) for a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer, and for digestive health
• Protein (in meat, dairy, beans, nuts, soy, and some fortified foods and beverages) for maintaining optimal health
• Antioxidants (in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, dark chocolate, coffee, and certain teas) for protection against free radical damage implicated in aging and various chronic diseases.

Overall, the survey found that "when people are choosing foods for themselves and their children, they are interested in healthful components such as fiber, whole grains, protein, vitamin C, and calcium, which all play a role in building strong bodies and improving overall health."

Specifically, more than half of those surveyed said they are changing the types of foods or food components they eat in an effort to improve their health. The foods cited most often as products that participants are trying to eat more of include:

• Vegetables/salads (60 percent)
• Fruits/fruit juices (53 percent)
• Whole grains (11 percent)
• Protein (9 percent)
• Fish/seafood (7 percent)
• Fiber (7 percent)

In addition to changing the types of foods they eat, 69 percent are changing the amount of foods consumed, and 19 percent are changing their use of dietary supplements.

It looks like more people are incorporating elements of the Mediterranean Diet into their lives and realizing the important benefits of nutrition in addressing health concerns!