Eating right is one of the keys to good health, but what exactly is healthy nutrition? What should be included in a balanced diet for optimal well-being? While nutritional needs do vary from person to person depending on age, activity level, and state of health, there are general guidelines that you can follow for your nutritious diet.
Fruits and Vegetables
Instead of making fruits and vegetables an occasional snack or side dish, they should be a focus of a healthy diet. Most people do not consume the recommended five servings per day, and even fewer consume several servings of fresh fruit and vegetables, which have a higher nutrient-content than canned, cooked, and processed produce. Why are these foods so essential for solid, healthy nutrition? First, they are packed with nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, while being low in calories. Second, they are excellent sources of fiber. A high-fiber diet is important for preventing certain types of cancers and for lowering the risk of heart disease.
To get enough of these nutrient-dense foods, incorporate them into every meal. Have a glass of fresh juice with breakfast, as well as a serving of berries, melons, or even sliced avocado and tomato. Eat a fresh green salad once a day either with lunch or dinner. Pack chopped fresh veggies for a snack at work. Have two different types of vegetables for dinner and enjoy a serving of fresh fruit for dessert.
Meat or Vegetarian
Do you have to be on a vegetarian diet for healthy nutrition? Not necessarily, but it is important to consume red meat, eggs, and dairy products in moderation and to enjoy other sources of quality protein. Beef, milk, and other animal products do contain plenty of nutrition, including essential vitamins and minerals such as iron, zinc, and calcium, but they are also high in saturated fat and they can slow the digestive process. Other low-fat sources of protein contain a variety of amino acids, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids, without all of the saturated fat and cholesterol.
Try having fish for dinner two times a week, tofu one day, and beans another. Snack on nuts and seeds. Have soy milk sometimes instead of cow’s milk and try substituting goat’s milk or sheep’s milk cheese for cow’s milk cheese. When you do enjoy beef, make sure to keep the portions at a reasonable size.
Dark, Healthy Grains
Another tip for healthy nutrition is to choose the right grains. White flour products and white rice do not contain as many nutrients as whole grains. Brown rice, whole wheat, oats, barley, quinoa, buckwheat, and other types of grains are packed with nutrients because they are not processed as much as white flour products and white rice. With the whole grain still in place, you are consuming not only carbohydrates, but also amino acids, antioxidants, fiber, essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals with your grains.
Try having hearty hot cereals instead of boxed cold cereals for breakfast. Alternate your consumptions of oatmeal with almonds, quinoa with honey and milk, and cream of wheat with fresh berries. Always choose whole grain breads, pastas, and rolls. Switch to brown rice and even try other types of grains that you may not usually cook with such as millet and barley.
Healthy nutrition is about eating whole foods, fresh foods, and a variety of foods. Leave out the processed, packaged snacks and the fast food meals. Instead cook healthy meals and enjoy the flavors of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.