National Nutrition Month
Because March is National Nutrition Month, we're highlighting the importance of eating a balanced diet to maintain a healthy lifestyle and reduce the risk of disease. Eating a variety of food groups in moderate portions is key in maintaining a healthy weight.
To pack in as many nutrients as possible while limiting your calorie count.
Reduce Health Risks with Foods High in Nutrients
When it comes to nutrition, focus on eating nutrient-dense foods, and avoid sugars and sodium. Doing this will keep your body nourished and energized while reducing health risks!
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Fresh fruits and vegetables are full of antioxidants and may help protect your cells against certain kinds of cancer and other diseases.
Limit your intake of added sugars. Eating extra sugar can lead to excess calories, which can lead to weight gain over time. - Check nutrition labels. Be mindful of how much sugar you add when baking. - Women should have a maximum of 25 grams, which is six teaspoons of added sugar. - Men should have a maximum of 37.5 grams, which is nine teaspoons of added sugar.
Less sodium in your diet may help you lower or avoid high blood pressure. The American Heart Association recommends a limit of no more than 2,300 milligrams(mgs) a day for most adults.
Don't forget fiber. Aim for 30 grams per day. It keeps you feeling full longer and helps your body absorb nutrients. Choose fiber from whole foods, which are most easily digested than supplements. - 1/2 cup of beans = 5 grams - 1 cup of instant oatmeal (plain) = 5 grams - 1/2 cup cooked quinoa = 3.5 grams
Healthy Food Swaps
Out and About
Avoiding fast and fried foods is important to staying healthy and decreasing the risk of certain health conditions, such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Ask for extra vegetables on any fast-food item to get more fiber and nutrients. Most places are happy to accommodate.
Love pizza? Switch from regular crust to thin crust pizza and save almost 100 calories per slice.
Opt for "grilled" choices over "fried". If the menu doesn't list a specific, healthier option, just ask!
Pass up the french fries and order a small side salad or fruit.
What you drink matters almost as much as what you eat!
Choose water 80-90 percent of the time.
Add fruit, cucumber slices, or fresh mint to water for refreshing flavor.
Follow a one-for-one rule at parties or social events. Alternate one sugary or alcoholic beverage with one glass of water.
Do the math. If you drink sugary coffees, teas, or sodas, look at the label and add up the calories and sugar you are drinking.
For the Cook
Are you willing to trade in some excess calories and fat for a little cooking time?
Use applesauces, Greek yogurt, or pumpkin in place of butter when baking. Ratio: 1 cup butter = 1/2 cup substitute.
Coat the surface of the food or meat with a small amount of oil or buttermilk, then bake in the over instead of deep frying.
Don't forget whole grains! Use quinoa, brown rice, and barley as a high-fiber, nutrient-rich side dish.
Tips Toward Better Nutrition
Talk with your doctor to discuss the right number of calories for you.
Check with your pharmacist if you are on medications that may interact with specific nutrients or vitamins.
Partner up! Have a friend, family member, or co-worker join you in eating better.
Take advantage of your resources. Local farmers markets and CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) shares are a cost-effective way to get fresh produce.