Functional foods are those that have been chemically modified to include health benefits beyond what the food itself might provide. A good example is cholesterol-lowering margarines. In these products, plant stanol and sterol esters, which look chemically similar to cholesterol, "fool” the body into shedding excess cholesterol.
Supplements. While a few supplements might be beneficial, several unresolved problems still exist. First, they’re not regulated, so manufacturers don’t have to prove they’re safe or effective, and there are no manufacturing standards. Additionally, much of the research supporting supplement effectiveness has evaluated not the effect of the supplement itself, but diets or foods rich in Vitamin C or E, for example. More recent research has shown that distilling those elements and putting them in pill form often does not have the same health benefits. "The most important thing is to tell your doctor which supplements you’re taking,” instructs Sharonne N. Hayes, M.D., founder of the Women’s Heart Clinic at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. Some supplements interfere with heart medications like blood thinners, making your necessary heart medications less effective.
Portion control. Don’t get intimidated by a recommendation of 5-10 servings of fruits or vegetables a day, says Hayes. A serving of veggies is a half-cup, or the size of a tennis ball, while a serving size of meat is 3 ounces, or about the size of a deck of cards.
Don’t "waste” your calories. It’s OK to splurge sometimes, Hayes says, admitting a personal preference for cheesecake. "But if I’m going to have cheesecake, it had better be really good,” she says. "If you take a bite of a cookie and it’s just so-so, just put it down. Don’t waste those calories on something that doesn’t truly bring you joy.”