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Simple Steps to Good Nutrition

Every day you hear about a new diet in the market. They all promise quick weight loss and a magic formula that for sure will work. Well, reality is that the only way to loose weight is to eat less than you burn and also to do it for lifetime. This means you need to be able to create a stay on a diet you can feel you could do it for the rest of your life.

Here are some basic principles that will help you create your own diet. The more you learn the better it is for you.

Enjoy a wide variety of foods:

  • Six or more servings of grain and whole grain products and legumes each day.
  • Five or more servings of vegetables and fruits each day.
  • Three or more servings of fat free or low fat milk products for most adults (two or more for children; four or more for teenagers, pregnant or breastfeeding mothers, and older adults).
  • Two servings of lean meat, poultry, seafood, or vegetarian protein each day. Include at least two servings of fatty fish (such as salmon, tuna, or halibut) each week.
  • Choose a diet low in saturated and trans (hydrogenated) fats. Replace most of these fats with healthful polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.
  • Balance your food intake with physical activity to achieve and maintain a healthful weight.
  • Limit your daily intake of dietary Cholesterol to less than 300 milligrams.
  • Keep your intake of sodium to less than 2,400 milligrams per day. (If you have had a heart attack or have coronary heart disease, your doctor may recommend lower limits.)
  • If you drink alcohol, limit yourself to one drink per day it you are a woman and two drinks per day if you are a man.

Balance + Variety = Good Health

The more research uncovers about the connection between food and health, the more it confirms the wisdom of emphasizing balance and variety in your diet. Each food group makes an important contribution to the overall equation.

Complex carbohydrates are the cornerstone of a balanced diet. Whole grains, vegetables, and fruits provide important vitamins, minerals, and both soluble and insoluble fiber.

Fat free and low fat dairy products, such as fat free milk, cheeses, and yogurt, are another component of a well rounded diet. They provide calcium, protein, and other vital nutrients. It's important to realize how much difference there is between fat free and whole milk products. For example, compare the nutrition labels of fat free and low fat milk or ice cream and the full fat products.

Proteins the body's construction material, are required for growth and tissue repair. You may not realize, however, that most adults eat more protein than they actually need. Excellent protein sources include loan meats skinless poultry, seafood, fat free and low tat dairy products soy protein found in meatless alternatives, dried beans, grains, nuts and seeds.

Seafood is an excellent protein choice. Recent studies suggest that eating at least two servings of fish that contain omega 3 fatty acids such as salmon, halibut, and tuna may reduce the risk for coronary events and heart disease.

Eggs are another economical source of protein. Remember, however, that the yolk from a single large egg contains between 213 and 220 mg of cholesterol. Egg whites and egg substitutes have no cholesterol, so you can enjoy them freely.

Fats and oils are an essential part of a balanced diet. Eliminating fats completely from your diet would be impossible, since fats occur naturally in many foods, including grains, vegetables, and fruits. It is the type of fat that makes the difference to your health. The idea is to keep the harmful saturated and trans fats to a minimum and to replace them with the more healthful unsaturated fats.

Saturated fats are found in meat, poultry, whole milk dairy products (such as cream, butter, and cheese), lard, and tropical vegetable oils, such as coconut, palm, and palm kernel oils. Saturated fats stay solid at room temperature.

Trans fats are found in vegetable oils that have gone through a process called hydrogenation to make them more solid. The amount of trans fat is especially high in commercial products that contain hydrogenated or partially oils. These products include vegetable shortenings, stick margarines, commercial fried foods, and baked goods such as cookies and crackers.

Unsaturated fats include:
Polyunsaturated fats found in corn oil, safflower oil, walnuts, and fish.
Monosaturated fats found in olives, olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, and avocados.

Unsaturated fats are the best ones to use in your diet, especially in place of saturated and trans fats. Most monounsaturated fats in varying percentages.

Remember that the key to eating well is to eat a variety of foods.

Source: American Heart Association and Healthy Choice © 2004 ConAgra Foods, Inc

Adapted by Editorial Staff, January, 2006
Last update, August 2008


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