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Jun 15, 2023


If you’re trying to make smarter choices when it comes to your health and wellness, it can be difficult to know where to start. “Diet and exercise” can seem vague, but did you know that practicing

If you’re trying to make smarter choices when it comes to your health and wellness, it can be difficult to know where to start. “Diet and exercise” can seem vague, but did you know that practicing better nutrition can help prevent several diseases?

At the Million Veteran Program (MVP), researchers are studying how diet and nutrition influence Veteran health with the hopes of recommending effective ways you can become the healthiest version of yourself. Below are some everyday healthy choices that can have a big impact on your health.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD), including stroke and coronary artery disease (CAD), is the major cause of death for Americans including Veterans.

MVP researchers discovered that:

Another potentially heart-healthy food: chocolate. MVP researchers analyzed data from MVP participants who completed the nutrition section of the MVP lifestyle survey. Good news: Findings suggest regular chocolate consumption may lead to a lower risk of CAD.

Researchers at MVP studied the relationship between adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet and the risk for chronic disease. Findings show that eating a diet of mostly fruit, vegetables and other plants like whole grains, nuts, legumes, vegetable oils and tea/coffee may lead to a longer healthier life. Further, eating a plant-based diet may prevent major chronic diseases.

While grocery shopping, spend most of your time on the outer edges of the store. That’s where you’ll find fresh and unprocessed foods. Preparing meals at home can also help you avoid consuming fried foods, which is correlated with CAD.

VA has a program to help address food insecurity (when a person has problems accessing good nutrition due to financial issues, transportation or other factors). Veterans experiencing food insecurity can find resources at VHA National Food Security Office (FSO).

Smoking is addictive, and research shows it has a negative effect on overall health and wellness. While quitting smoking is difficult, this one change can have an enormous positive impact on your health. The Surgeon General’s estimate is that quitting could add 10 years to your life.

MVP researchers investigated the relationship between smoking and cardiovascular diseases and found a link between smoking and a broad range of cardiovascular diseases, particularly CAD, heart failure and stroke.

Better nutrition is just one piece of the puzzle. MVP researchers identified eight therapeutic lifestyle factors that may lead to both a lower risk of premature death and a lower overall mortality risk: Never smoking, positive social relationships, not regularly binge drinking, good sleep hygiene, good diet, minimal stress, being physically active and no opioid addiction.

VA offers two main programs that can help Veterans incorporate positive lifestyle changes into their daily lives. MOVE! is a weight management program that guides participants through activities that support healthy lifestyles, and the program is available in both English and Spanish.

Whole Health is VA’s approach to care that supports Veteran health and well-being. Whole Health develops a personalized health plan that is based on each Veteran’s values, needs and goals.

The findings in this article were made possible by the Veterans in VA’s Million Veteran Program. Each Veteran who joins MVP has a positive impact on the research and discoveries made by researchers. MVP is 40,000 Veterans away from reaching its goal of enrolling one million Veterans by this November. In addition to nutrition, MVP is studying dozens of health conditions that affect Veterans, including:

Join the Million Veteran program today at or call 866-441-6075 to make an appointment at a participating VA facility. You don’t need to receive your care at VA to participate.

MIllion Veteran Program nutrition