You’re probably familiar with the old saying “you are what you eat.” Well, it’s true! To be a healthy person, you’ve got to eat healthy foods. These tips from the USDA Dietary Guidelines will help you make simple changes in your diet to lead a healthier life.
1. Cut Back on the Soda
Sugary sweet soft drinks may be tasty, but they don’t have a lot of nutritional value. Swapping your soda for water or tea will cut calories, while choosing 100% fruit and vegetable juices will also give your body the nutrient kick it needs. Craving bubbles? Try tonic water or seltzer.
Quitting soda cold-turkey isn’t easy. If you’re a regular soda drinker, cutting back to one soda a day is a great start.
2. Gain with Whole Grain
Refined grains like white bread and white rice don’t have the same nutritional value as their whole-grain cousins. Because whole grains contain all three parts of the grain kernel, they deliver higher quanities of nutrients like fiber, B vitamins and minerals.
Next time you make a sandwich or a rice-based side dish, look for products that are 100% whole grain. According to the USDA, at least half of the grains you eat should be whole grains.
Whole grain products include barley, brown rice, and oatmeal. In addition, many foods have whole grain options like whole-wheat breads, pastas, cereals and crackers.
3. Vary Your Proteins
Different proteins are more or less rich in different nutrients, so varying your selection ensures your body gets the full range it needs. Red meat, for example, is high in iron, while chicken delivers high concentrations of vitamin B3 and salmon offers an abundance of vitamins B12 and vitamin D.
The USDA recommends choosing seafood options like salmon, tuna, or even shrimp at least twice a week. Seafood options are lower in fat and cholesterol, as well as a great source for minerals like calcium and iron.
Did you know that meat isn’t your only protein option? Nuts and beans are also packed with protein. Snacking on peanuts or making a bean salad is a great way for anyone to get the protein that they need, including vegetarians.
4. Go Green
According to the USDA, most Americans would benefit from eating more vegetables. Vegetables are divided into several subgroups, each with their own nutritional benefits. Choosing vegetables over other options during meal and snack times will not only decrease the total number of calories you consume, it will provide you with a variety of important nutrients.
Replacing your usual dinner-time side dish of macaroni and cheese with a leafy-green salad is a great example of how easy it is to work more veggies into your diet.
5. Don’t Get Too Salty
Many processed foods like canned soups, frozen dinners, fast food items and snack foods are high in sodium. While sodium is an essential nutrient, consuming too much can lead to heart issues like high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.
Reduce the risk of high blood pressure now and in the future by regularly monitoring your sodium intake.
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