March is National Nutrition Month!
This month we are focusing on nutrition and what it really means to "eat healthy" and what eating healthy does for our bodies.
We all know “nutrition” and eating a “nutritious diet” is important…but what IS a healthy diet?
And why is it important?
A healthy diet consists of:
A wide variety of fruits and vegetables
- This includes fresh, frozen or canned fruits and vegetables! With canned and frozen fruits and veggies, make sure to look for options with lower sodium (salt), because too much sodium can raise your blood pressure.
Whole grains (such as whole-wheat bread, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, and oatmeal)
- Whole grains have more fiber (and other nutrients) than other types of grains. This fiber helps to improve your cholesterol, regulate your blood sugar to keep you full longer.
Healthy sources of proteins
- Some examples of healthy proteins would be seafood, fish, nuts, legumes, and low-fat or nonfat dairy. This can also include red meat and poultry, but make sure it is lean (no more than 15% fat). Minimize processed meats such as bacon, ham, deli slices, sausages, hot dogs, and jerky.
Liquid non-tropical vegetable oils
- These include canola, corn, olive, peanut, safflower, soybean and sunflower.
- Tropical oils like palm oil and coconut oil can have a lot of saturated fat (that’s the “unhealthy” type of fat!).
Minimally processed foods
- Highly processed foods (like sugary drinks, chips, or smoked sausage) can contain too much sodium, added sugars, and unhealthy fats, which can lead to serious diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
- So instead, choose minimally processed foods. These include salad mixes, bagged dry beans, roasted unsalted nuts, and frozen fruits and vegetables.
Limited intake of added sugars
- Things like sugary beverages (soft drinks, sweetened tea or coffee, energy drinks, fruit drinks), candy, cakes, cookies, pie, and candy all contain lots of added sugars.
- Added sugars don’t contain any nutrients, but they do contain lots of calories that can cause weight gain.
Limited intake of salt
- Cutting back on sodium improves blood pressure and heart health!
For more information and great tips and recipes, check out www.heart.org/healthyliving.