Learn the Basics
Good health means good nutrition. And while fads and diets come and go, healthy eating is here to stay. Each meal, your plate should be divided into four equal sections, one for each major food group: vegetables, fruits, proteins and grains. You should also make sure to have dairy and healthy fats mixed in as well.
Eat the Rainbow
Fruit and vegetables should make up half your plate. Make sure to choose a variety of multi-colored vegetables from these vegetable groups to boost nutrition and keep your taste buds happy:
- Dark green vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, romaine lettuce, and bokchoy.
- Red and orange vegetables such as tomatoes, red pepper, carrots, and butternut squash.
- Beans and peas such as kidney beans, soy beans, and split peas.
- Starchy vegetables such as potatoes, corn, green peas, and water chestnuts.
- Other vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, and celery.
Fresh, whole fruits are an ideal way to get the maximum value of vitamins and fiber in your diet. Remember, frozen and dried fruit count too, as does 100% fruit juice. Try different fruits, such as mangoes, raspberries, kiwi, apples, bananas and oranges, along with other favorites.
Remember, the more color the better!
Healthy Whole Grains
Aim to eat at least half of your grains as whole -- rather than refined -- grains. That means choosing brown rice, whole-grain bread, and whole-wheat pasta over white rice, white bread, and regular pasta. You can also add whole grains like oatmeal, quinoa, and bulgur to your diet. Whole grains give you the entire grain, including the bran "coating" and the nutrient-rich "germ" inside the grain. That means you can enjoy added nutritional value and fiber, plus more texture and taste.
Lean Protein Foods
Whether you're a vegetarian or an omnivore, fill only a quarter of your plate with protein foods. Choose a variety of proteins to maximize your intake of vitamins and minerals. Also limit processed meats like hot dogs, luncheon meats, and sausage, which have added fat and salt. Aim for low-fat proteins to help keep your waist trim and your weight under control.
The following are good sources of healthy protein:
- Lean cuts of beef, pork, lamb, and other meats
- Fish and shellfish
- Beans and peas
- Low-fat tofu and other soy products
- Chicken, turkey, and other poultry
- Nuts and seeds (use sparingly)
Grains can also be a source of protein. For example, Quinoa and Farro are complete proteins which give you the same benefits as meat without the added fat. Nature’s Earthly Choice Chia Seeds have twice the protein of any other seed or grain, making it as easy addition to any meal.
Remember to incorporate low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt, and other calcium-rich dairy products to your diet. Calcium-fortified soy milk and lactose-free milk are widely available now for those who are lactose intolerant.
|Flax Seeds or Hemp Seeds
||Are rich in the omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which helps control inflammation and blood pressure, as well as other body functions.
||Flax seeds spoil easily, so buy them fresh and keep them in the fridge. Toss into salads, soups, stews, or casseroles.
||Is a monounsaturated fat that contains 30-40 antioxidants. When substituted for butter or other oils, can help protect heart health.
||Drizzle lightly on bread instead of butter. Sauté vegetables in olive oil and garlic for extra flavor. Cut fresh potatoes into fries, toss in a dash of oil, and roast in the oven at 400 degrees for healthy French fries.
||Is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce the risk of heart disease and may reduce the risk of ischemic stroke.
||Use in cooking whenever you don't want the stronger flavor of olive oil. Toss with root vegetables, then roast in the oven. Mix a dash of canola with lemon juice and salt and pepper, and toss in a salad of apples, fennel, and greens. Use instead of margarine or shortening to grease cookware.
|Fish: Salmon, Tuna, Trout, Striped Bass, Mackerel, Herring, Sardines
||Dietary omega-3 fatty acids from fish help reduce the risk of heart disease and sudden cardiac death.
||Baste a filet of salmon with a teaspoon of olive oil, toss on some sprigs of rosemary or thyme, salt and pepper, then slow roast for 17 minutes at 250 degrees. Make a light tuna salad with a bit of olive oil or canola oil instead of mayonnaise. Brush a filet of trout with olive oil and lemon, then coat with seasoned breadcrumbs and bake for Mediterranean-style taste.
|Nuts: Almonds, Walnuts, Pecans, Peanuts
||Contain poly- and monounsaturated fats that, when substituted for other fatty foods, can reduce bad LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol levels.
||Eat raw, as a healthy snack, instead of chips or crackers. Pulverize into crumbs and use to bread a trout filet, then saute lightly in canola oil.
*Avoid nuts roasted with oil and salt.
Essential fatty acids are crucial for the development and health of the entire body, particularly the brain, heart, nervous system, tissues, skin and immune system. There are many good sources of Omega-3’s including cold water fish like tuna and salmon, dark leafy greens, walnuts and flax seed. Meanwhile, adding flax seed to your diet has been associated with reduced mortality from cardiovascular disease, suppressed inflammation in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, and decreased risk of breast cancer.