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.
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.
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.
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.
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.