We all know that the conventional thinking on eating right has changed over the years. Twenty-five years ago, eggs were condemned as a contributor to high cholesterol…now they are considered to be a valuable protein source. Margarine was once thought of as a safe, healthy alternative to butter – now it’s shunned due to its high level of trans-fats. As things go full circle in thinking about nutrition, however, some recommendations remain on the eating-healthy shortlist:
- Avoid too much red meat, and lean more towards chicken and fish
- Get plenty of green leafy vegetables for vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber
- Choose whole grains for bread rather than processed flour and white bread
- Avoid fast food and snacks that are rich in processed flour, sugar, artificial colors, artificial flavors and preservatives
There’s more to healthy food choices than just the dietary guidelines, however, as the staff of Community Blog Online has found. Here are a few of our suggestions.
- Make smart choices at the grocery store. Read nutrition labels on the packaging, and know what they mean. Think about how many calories are in a certain food, and how many calories are accounted for with sugars, fats, and carbohydrates vs. protein and fiber.
- Limit your sugar intake. Sugar is empty calories with few, if any, nutrients. Remember that “sucrose,” “glucose,” “corn syrup,” “high-fructose corn syrup,” and “fructose” all mean the same thing – sugar.
- Understand which fats are which. Keep an eye out for foods that are low in saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol to help head off the risk of heart disease. Some “good” fats, on the other hand, can be found in things like nuts and avocados. Try to keep your total fat intake to between 20% and 35% of your calories.
- Watch your sodium intake. Remember that there’s a direct tie-in between sodium (salt) and high blood pressure, and that most people’s salt intake actually comes from processed foods and not the salt shaker. On the other hand, potassium can help cancel out some of salt’s effects on blood pressure (as well as being a valuable electrolyte). Tomatoes, bananas, potatoes and orange juice are a few foods that are rich in potassium.
- Drink plenty of water. Water aids digestion and helps flush toxins from the system, and many, many people forget to drink as much water as they should. Remember that if you feel the physical sensation of thirst, your body is already starting to get dehydrated.