Good nutrition is an important part of leading a healthy lifestyle. Physical activity and a healthy diet can help one to reach and maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and promote overall good health. The food choices made each day will impact health outcomes into the future.
Unhealthy eating habits contribute to obesity and major health risks that can cause illness and death. Poor diets can result in heart disease, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and certain types of cancer. Health problems can be substantially decreased and eliminated by making smart food choices. Fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and proteins can reduce inflammation, improve immune function, and promote healing.
The Department of Health and Human Services Recommendations
Make half your plate fruits and vegetables
Choose red, orange, and dark-green vegetables like tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and broccoli, along with other vegetables for your meals. Add fruit to meals as part of main or side dishes or as dessert. The more colorful you make your plate, the more likely you are to get the vitamins, minerals, and fiber your body needs to be healthy.
Make half the grains you eat whole grains
An easy way to eat more whole grains is to switch from a refined-grain food to a whole-grain food. For example, eat whole-wheat bread instead of white bread. Read the ingredients list and choose products that list a whole-grain ingredients first. Look for things like: whole wheat, brown rice, bulgur, buckwheat, oatmeal, rolled oats, quinoa, or wild rice.
Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk
Both have the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk, but fewer calories and less saturated fat.
Choose a variety of lean protein foods
Meat, poultry, seafood, dry beans or peas, eggs, nuts, and seeds are considered part of the protein foods group. Select leaner cuts of ground beef (where the label says 90% lean or higher), turkey breast, or chicken breast. Do not select items to which you might be allergic like nuts.
Compare sodium in foods
Use the Nutrition Facts label to choose lower sodium versions of foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals. Select canned foods labeled “low sodium,” “reduced sodium,” or “no salt added.”
Drink water instead of sugary drinks
Cut calories by drinking water or unsweetened beverages. Soda, energy drinks, and sports drinks are a major source of added sugar and calories in American diets. Try adding a slice of lemon, lime, or watermelon or a splash of 100% juice to your glass of water if you want some flavor.
Eat some seafood
Seafood includes fish (such as salmon, tuna, and trout) and shellfish (such as crab, mussels, and oysters). Seafood has protein, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids (heart-healthy fat). Adults should try to eat at least eight ounces a week of a variety of seafood. Children can eat smaller amounts of seafood, too. This is not recommended if you are allergic to seafood or shellfish.
Cut back on solid fats
Eat fewer foods that contain solid fats. The major sources for Americans are cakes, cookies, and other desserts (often made with butter, margarine, or shortening); pizza; processed and fatty meats (e.g., sausages, hot dogs, bacon, ribs); and ice cream.