What is a Healthy Diet?

June 29th, 2010 · No Comments

It seems that every day there are new reports about the risks and benefits of certain foods. Unfortunately, the reports might give different or even opposing recommendations for healthy nutrition habits.  What’s a person to do?

Not to worry!  There is extensive research that has uncovered a number of key nutrition principles or “secret ingredients” that have a significant impact on our health.  In particular, our nutrition habits can affect our risk of developing cancer, heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, osteoporosis, obesity, and the many other medical problems associated with these conditions.  All of these conditions can negatively impact the length and quality of your life.

The secret ingredients of a healthy diet are:

  • Fiber
  • Antioxidants
  • Lean Protein
  • Unsaturated Fats
  • Balancing calories to maintain a healthy weight
  • H2O

Foods for Fiber and Antioxidants:

Eat at least 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables daily.

  • Have 1-2 servings at every meal – an orange or banana with breakfast (whole fruit is better than juice), celery or carrots for lunch, steamed broccoli/cauliflower or a salad for supper
  • Take larger portions, filling half your plate with vegetables and/or fruit
  • When snacking, choose fruits or vegetables over cookies & chips

Eat dried beans and legumes (split peas, lentils, black beans, etc.)  3 or more times per week – in salads, soups, side dishes and sandwiches (hummus is great!)

Eat at least 3 servings of whole grains daily – cereals, breads, in soups  & casseroles.  Not just brown rice or whole wheat pasta – try bulgur, quinoa, etc

Foods for Lean Protein

  1. Eat at least 2 cups low fat dairy products daily (skim milk, fat free yogurt)
  2. Eat 2 servings daily (one serving is equal to a deck of cards size) of  skinless chicken, fish, seafood, 93% lean ground beef,  other beef and pork cuts with minimal marbling
  3. Replace 1 or 2 servings of the above with legumes or soy products

Foods for Unsaturated Fat

  1. Vegetables oils on salads (olive a good one) and in stir frying (canola a      good one) but remember 1 tsp. is a serving
  2. Nuts and seeds  – 1 Tbsp. is a serving, so use as a condiment as it is difficult to limit as a snack
  3. Salad dressing, mayonnaise, other vegetable oil spreads – choose those with 1 gram or less saturated fat and 0 grams trans fat per Tbsp.

Balancing calories to maintain a healthy weight

To balance the number of calorie you eat with the number of calories you burn off each day, remember to:

  • Control portion sizes and number of helpings with each meal
  • Keep snacks healthy and low calorie
  • Include 30 or more minutes of daily exercise
  • If your weight remains above the healthy range (generally a body mass index (BMI) of 19-25 kg/m2), then it probably means that your calories are out of balance (too many in and not enough out).  Re-focus your efforts to reduce high calorie foods while increasing activities that help you burn calories.

Women need at least 8 cups and men at least 11 cups of fluid daily (more, depending on how much you exercise), with water being the best choice,  Other low calorie choices include tea, coffee, and a variety of diet beverages.  Remember that drinking your calories leaves fewer calories for food when you are trying to maintain a healthy weight

So next time you hear a news report on nutrition and health, remember to keep your thoughts and actions focused on the key secret ingredients to a healthy diet listed above.  Your good health depends on it!

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Tags: Eat Healthy · Healthy Lifestyle ·


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