What we eat has an important impact on our health. If our daily food choices don’t reflect the science around nutrition and health, are we missing out on a golden opportunity to improve our health not only today, but also as we age? The truth is most Americans struggle with some aspect of healthful, balanced eating.
We can “Make Every Bite Count” by choosing nutrient-dense foods. Nutrient-dense foods are foods that contain important vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other health-promoting nutrients without a lot of added sugars, saturated fat or sodium.
The core food groups that make up a healthy eating pattern include:
- Vegetables of all types: dark green (such as spinach, green beans and broccoli); red and orange (such as tomatoes and carrots); beans, peas, and lentils; starchy (such as corn, peas, potatoes, plantains and winter squash); and other vegetables
- Fruits, especially whole fruit as opposed to fruit bars, dried fruit, or sweetened fruit
- Grains such as cereal, crackers, bread, rice and pasta; at least half of which are whole grain
- Dairy, including fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese, and/or lactose-free versions and fortified soy beverages and yogurt
- Protein foods, including lean meats, poultry, and eggs; seafood; beans, peas, and lentils; and nuts, seeds, and soy products such as tofu, edamame or tempeh
- Oils, including vegetable oils (such as olive oil and canola oil) and oils in food, (such as seafood, avocado and nuts)
Approximately 85% of our daily calories need to come from nutrient-dense foods from each food group to support good health. Think of the remaining 15% of calories as “choice foods” that can be used for added sugars and saturated fat, or simply larger portions of healthier foods.
Feeling inspired but not sure where to start? Here are a few great ways to build a healthy lifestyle…
- Make Smart Choices. Do you know what’s really in your food? How many calories? How many nutrients? The more you know, the wiser your decisions can be. If you’re shopping in the grocery store, look at the Nutrition Facts labels of foods before you put them in your cart. If you’re dining out, look up the menu online.
- Eat and Drink Fewer Calories. Keep empty calories to a minimum and focus on foods like fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, lean protein sources, low-fat dairy products, and whole grains. These are all keys to a healthful and balanced diet that’s rich in nutrients.
DISCLAIMER: These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. The information is for informational purposes and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure any illness. Consult a physician before taking any action.
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