Healthy eating is not about individual nutrients anymore.

1. Build a better plate.

The Healthy Eating Plate is made up of one-half vegetables and fruits, one-quarter whole grains, and one-quarter healthy protein. “Whole” and “healthy” are important words here. Refined grains have less fiber and fewer nutrients than whole grains, such as whole-wheat bread and brown rice. Healthy proteins include fish, poultry, beans, and nuts — but not red meats or processed meats.


2. Pile on the vegetables and fruit.

Vegetables and fruits contain lots of fibre, vitamins, minerals and hundreds of beneficial plant chemicals (phytochemicals) absent in supplements. Diets rich in vegetables and fruits benefit the heart by lowering blood pressure. In addition, reduce cholesterol levels,  inflammation, improving insulin resistance and blood vessel function. In long-term observational studies, people who eat more fruits and vegetables have a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and weight gain, and those who eat more fruit also have a lower risk of stroke.


3. Go for the good fats.

At one time, we were told to eat less fat, but now we know that it’s mainly the type of fat that counts. The most beneficial sources are plants and fish. You can help lower “bad” cholesterol by eating mostly polyunsaturated fats (including vegetable oils and omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish, seeds and nuts, and canola oil) and monounsaturated fats (in avocados and many plant-based oils, such as olive oil and canola oil). Saturated fats (found mostly in dairy and meat products) and trans fats (hydrogenated fat found in many fried and baked goods) boost bad cholesterol. Worse still, trans fats reduce your “good” cholesterol.


4. Replace refined grains and potatoes with whole grains.

Whole grains retain the bran and germ of the natural grain, providing healthful fiber, vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. Many of these substances are removed from refined grains, such as white bread and white rice, and are barely present in starches such as potatoes. Starches and refined carbohydrates are digested quickly, causing surges in insulin and blood sugar, boosting bad cholesterol, and lowering good cholesterol. These changes increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes. The rapid rise and fall of blood sugar and insulin can also make you hungry, raising the risk of weight gain. Potatoes aren’t all bad; they’re a good source of vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. But eat them only occasionally, in small amounts, and with the skins on (that’s where the fiber is).

5. Eliminate liquid sugars.

Sugar-sweetened beverages — non-diet sodas, sugary fruit drinks, iced teas with added sugar, and sports drinks — provide energy and little else. There’s good evidence that these drinks can raise the threshold for satiety (feeling full), thereby increasing the amount you eat and promoting weight gain. What about 100% fruit juice with no added sugar? Even all-natural fruit juice has a lot of calories. The Healthy Eating Plate guidelines suggest you drink no more than one small glass a day (say, 4 to 6 ounces).


6. Drink enough water.

Many foods contain water, so you may get enough every day without making a special effort. But it can be helpful to drink water (or another no-calorie liquid, such as black tea, coffee, or carbonated water) with meals or as an alternative to snacking. A reasonable goal is 4 to 6 cups of water a day. Remember, water is life!!!

7. Learn to like less salt.

The body needs salt for proper muscle and nerve function and fluid balance, but excessive amounts can increase blood pressure and the risk of heart disease and stroke. Limit your daily salt intake to 2,300 milligrams (mg) — the amount in one teaspoonful of salt. If you have high blood pressure or are at risk for it, get no more than 1,500 mg per day.

8. Rethink supplements.

It’s best to get your vitamins and minerals from food rather than supplements, the key is choosing nutrient-dense foods, such as leafy greens, low-fat yogurt, dried beans, whole grains, and fish. The only problem is vitamin D. Here a supplement is probably a good idea, because it’s difficult to get the recommended daily intake (600 to 800 IU) through foods. Hint: You can get enough calcium on a 1,500-calorie-a-day diet by eating low-fat dairy products and legumes such as kidney beans.

9. Dine mindfully.

Taking time to savor your food not only makes eating more enjoyable, it can also help control your appetite. Your sense of fullness and satisfaction depends on hormonal signals from your digestive tract. If you eat too quickly, your brain may not receive the signals that say you’re full. Try putting down your fork between bites and chewing more slowly. Tune in to your food’s aroma, taste, and texture, and stop eating when you feel full.

10. Keep alcohol under control.

Many studies link moderate alcohol consumption (for women, no more than one drink per day) to heart benefits, including a reduced risk of heart attack, increases in “good” cholesterol, and reduced risk for type 2 diabetes, gallstones, and dementia (forgetfulness).But if you enjoy an occasional cocktail or a glass of wine with dinner, you need to weigh the risks and benefits in light of your own situation.

11. Eat breakfast.

It’s easy to skip breakfast when you’re in a rush, aren’t hungry, or want to cut calories. But a healthy morning meal makes for smaller rises in blood sugar and insulin throughout the day, which can lower your risk of overeating. A healthy, balanced breakfast is moderate in size and includes healthy protein, whole-grain carbohydrates, and fruit — for example, an egg, whole-wheat toast, and a fruit. If you like cereal, have whole-grain cereal with fruit and low-fat yogurt or milk.

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