What IS a Healthy Diet
by: Chris Chenoweth
There is so much information about what is healthy and nutritious these days that it is very difficult to sort out the hype from the truth. Following a healthy diet can be accomplished by making some simple adjustments to your current diet.
If you think it is just too much trouble to make some simple changes to improve your family’s diet, think again. Most people do not realize the incredible impact that a healthy diet has on our bodies, making the difference between poor health and good health.
Along with regular physical activity, a healthy diet is the most important factor that determines your weight. If you are overweight or obese, your chances of developing many diseases or conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, and certain cancers, increase significantly.
EASY STEPS TO A HEALTHY DIET
Your first step to following a healthy diet is to make sure you include food from all food groups. Vegetables, fruits, whole-grains, legumes, lean proteins and low fat milk products should all be incorporated into your daily diet.
*VEGETABLES – A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer. It also contributes to a healthy weight, reducing your risk of obesity and the conditions associated with it. There are a multitude of vegetables to choose from, the healthiest being dark green vegetables like broccoli, lettuces, and kale, orange vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, and squash, and red vegetables like red peppers and tomatoes.
*FRUITS – Eat a variety of fruits each day, canned, dried, fresh or frozen. Stay away from fruit juices as they can be high in sugar. (Unless you make the juice yourself.)
*WHOLE GRAINS – Choose whole grain cereals, breads, rice, and pasta. Read the food label and make sure the grain that is listed such as wheat, rice, oats or corn is referred to as WHOLE in the list of ingredients. Whole grains are an excellent source of fiber. Fiber can help reduce your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
*LEGUMES – This class of vegetable includes beans, peas and lentils. They are low in fat, contain no cholesterol, are high in protein, and have phytochemicals, compounds that help prevent heart disease and cancer. They are also a good source of fiber. Add pinto, kidney, black and garbanzo beans, split peas and lentils to your daily diet.
*LEAN PROTEINS – Choose lean meats, poultry, and fish. Bake, broil, or grill it. Do not fry! Beans, nuts and seeds also provide protein.
*LOW-FAT MILK PRODUCTS – Eat low-fat yogurt, low-fat cheese or low-fat milk every day. Dairy products can lower your risk of diabetes and help build strong bones, reducing your risk of osteoporosis.
There are a variety of foods that should not be present in your diet except in very small amounts. These foods, such as sugars, alcohol, and some fats, contribute to diseases and poor health.
*SUGARS – Avoid foods containing sugar. You know what they are! Always check food labels to see how much sugar is present as some foods contain sugar that may surprise you.
*ALCOHOL – Avoid alcohol. If you must drink, limit intake to one drink a day. Alcohol can increase your risk of many conditions including some types of cancers.
*FATS – There are different kinds of fat in our foods. Some are detrimental to your health and others are very healthy.
1. Monounsaturated fats (olive oil, flaxseed oil, peanut oil and avocados)
2. Polyunsaturated fats (safflower, sesame, sunflower seeds)
These fats raise your good cholesterol levels. To stick to a healthy diet, choose foods with these fats.
3. Saturated fat and trans fatty acids raise your bad cholesterol levels, contributing to your risk of heart disease. Limit your intake.
Saturated fats are found in beef, veal, lamb, pork, lard, butter, cream, whole milk dairy products and can be present in processed foods like frozen dinners and some canned food. Always check food labels before purchasing.
Trans fatty acids, the kind of fats that increase the risk of heart disease, are formed during the process of creating cooking oils, shortening, and margarine and are found in commercially fried foods, some baked goods, and crackers. When checking food labels, make sure the ingredients do not include hydrogenated fats.
Following a healthy diet is a necessary step for the improved health of you and your family. It is not difficult to make the simple changes necessary to change an unhealthy diet to a healthy one. The advantages, better health, longer life, and more energy, far outweigh any inconveniences you may experience.