The Importance of Eating Healthy
September is More Matters month, reminding us of the importance of vegetables and fruits in our diet. Cottage Health registered dietitian, Stacey Bailey, outlines the foods for healthy eating.
“By including more plant foods in your diet you can lower your risk for many diseases. These foods should be the basis of your diet along with lean protein sources such as chicken and fish and low fat dairy (or alternatives). This also helps lower sodium intake, as fresh foods have little to no sodium, and keep you below the recommended limit of 2000mg per day.”
“Eating a healthful diet may not prevent every disease, but it gives you the best defense to live a long and healthy life!” Bailey adds.
Healthy diet foods to live by include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds.
Vegetables are very low in calories and contain high levels of antioxidants that can benefit health. Choosing a variety of colors will ensure that you get all of the different nutrients that you need to give you the most health benefits. For example tomatoes contain lycopene which has been shown to decrease risk of prostate cancer and carrots contain beta-carotene which can help keep your skin and eyes healthy. Aim for at least 2-1/2 cups daily.
Fruit also contains high levels of antioxidants to benefit health. Blueberries are one of the highest antioxidant foods and contain nutrients that can help decrease risk of cancer. Fruit also is considered “nature’s candy” and can take the place of other sweet (and not as healthy) foods for more nutrients and less calories. Try to get a least 2 servings of fruit daily.
Whole Grains contain fiber which can lower cholesterol levels and in turn decrease risk of heart disease. They can also lower risk of digestive cancers such as mouth, lung, esophageal, and stomach. A high fiber diet can also lower your risk of diabetes. You should try to make all of the grains in your diet whole grains.
Beans also contain fiber and are an excellent source of protein. They are very low in saturated fat so can replace other high saturated sources of animal protein in your diet. Saturated fat is linked to increased cholesterol levels and risk for heart disease.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and Seeds are also good sources of protein and fiber but also contain healthy fats. Walnuts specifically are a good source of omega-3 fats which can decrease inflammation and risk for heart disease. Studies have shown that people who eat a serving of nuts (about 1 ounce) on a daily basis weigh less than people who don’t eat nuts. Nuts keep you full due to their fat and protein content, so are a good choice for a healthy snack.