When you look a little deeper you see not all food is created equal from a nutritional standpoint. Below are a few new guidelines to follow when eating for good health.
Half or more of your diet is carbohydrates. Different types of carbohydrates vary in the amount of time it takes for them to turn to sugars in your body. Always choose the most complex carbohydrates for optimal health.
Fruits, vegetables and grains are all carbohydrates. Fruits are sugar, so limit consumption to 2 – 3 servings per day. Choose whole fruits instead of juices or fruit snacks. This increases your fiber and decreases your sugar consumption. Eat fresh fruit rather than canned or processed products.
Vegetables - Do you eat the same vegetables week after week? Does the thought of another boring salad make you run for the nearest steak house? Go for variety in all your food choices. Variety helps keep your diet interesting and gives your body a broader range of nutrients. Each week make a point of choosing one or two vegetables that you have never tried before. Look up recipes and experiment. You might surprise yourself and find something new you really enjoy.
Choose from the many different categories of vegetables - leafy greens, dry beans and peas, orange, starchy and others. When choosing vegetables, keep in mind that corn is not a vegetable – it is technically a grain which quickly turns to sugar when consumed. It is best to limit consumption of corn and any by product of corn. Over half the U.S. corn crop is genetically modified, so that is one more reason to avoid corn products.
Buy organic, locally grown and in season (when possible) produce as much as possible. The long term build up of pesticides and fertilizers is not only harmful to your health, conventionally grown produce is lacking in nutrients and minerals due to a lack of minerals in the soil.
Grains – Choose whole grains, and eliminate refined white flour. Instead of pasta, use spaghetti squash. Instead of white rice, try quinoa, bulgur, couscous, or oatmeal. Avoid all processed cereals and processed or refined grains.
Fat has a bad reputation as unhealthy. The truth is your body requires fat to function properly, and fat should make up about 25 – 35% of your diet. Fat is used to lubricate your joints, cushion the organs and provide energy, and some vitamins are fat-soluble, meaning they can only be absorbed by your body through fat. Choose healthy fats such as olive oil, avocados, nuts, and fish. Do not use canola oil. Canola oil is made from rapeseed, which is not a food product.
Protein is an essential component of a healthy diet. Your diet should consist of 15 – 20% protein. You already know to choose lean sources of protein, remove skin and visible fat, and avoid fried foods. Choose grass fed, or free range meats, free of antibiotics and growth hormones. Other good sources of protein are nuts, seeds and dried beans. Do not substitute soy products as a source of protein. Non fermented soy is not healthy. It contains phytic acid, which leaches vitamins, minerals and nutrient from your body. Also, over 90% of the soy in America is genetically modified, so even fermented soy products are not health promoting.
Dairy - Dietary guidelines suggest daily consumption of 2 – 3 cups of low fat dairy products. Look for raw dairy at your local health food store, or from a local farm. Raw milk has many benefits including preventing infections and improving the immune system. Pasteurization destroys the anti-microbial and immune enhancing properties of milk and dairy products. To ensure the safety of raw dairy products, be sure to buy from a reputable source.
Intentionally missing from the list of foods to eat above are simple sugars, any drink that contains sugar or artificial sweeteners, refined grains, fast food and junk food. These are not healthy food choices. They are at best empty calories, and many contribute to ill health and disease.
Watch for hidden sources of sodium intake in processed foods such as canned soup and juices, luncheon meats, condiments, frozen dinners, cheese, tomato sauce, and snack foods. Total sodium, whether from table salt or from foods should be less than 2400 grams a day. Use celtic sea salt instead of refined table salt for added minerals.
Eating for good health is not only a matter of the foods you choose. Processing and cooking methods contribute significantly to whether a meal promotes health. Choose fresh, whole unprocessed foods and eat as close to natural as possible. This means avoiding or controlling the use of sauces, butter, and excess oil or fats, and salad dressings.
Start improving your health today by making a few changes to your diet and eating for good health.
# # #
And you can get a free mini course on 5 tips to a healthy lifestyle at http://www.healthwellnessconnection.com, where Mary Ann MacKay shares her research promoting healthy living through nutrition, diet and a healthy lifestyle. Dedicated to teaching people to reach their healing potential through nutrition, exercise and healthy living. Health Wellness Connection offers articles related to health and wellness, as well as reviews on health related products and information.