Food provides the energy and nutrients you need to be healthy. Nutrients include proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water.
Healthy eating is not hard. The key is to:
- Eat a variety of foods, including vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain products
- Eat lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, and low-fat dairy products
- Drink lots of water
- Limit salt, sugar, alcohol, saturated fat, and trans fat in your diet
Food Groups and Healthy Nutrition: USDA Recommendations
Here are details about the USDA’s recommended nutritional guidelines to follow for a healthy eating plan:
- Focus on fruits and vegetables: Fill have of your plate with fruits and vegetables at every meal.
- Go for low-fat dairy: Consume at least three cups of low-fat or fat-free milk each day or the equivalent in cheese, yogurt, or other calcium-rich foods.
- Choose whole grains: Get at least six to eight servings of whole grains each day. Grains should fill a quarter of your plate at each meal.
- Steer clear of trans and saturated fats, sodium (salt), sugars, and cholesterol: Limit fat to only about 20 to 35 percent of total calorie intake and avoid trans and saturated fats.
- Choose lean proteins: Fill the remaining quarter of your plate with lean protein. About 15 percent of your total calories should come from proteins, such as skin, fish, beans, nuts, and legumes.
Food Groups and Healthy Nutrition: Guidelines to Get You Going
Here are some other tips to help you develop a healthy eating plan. If you keep these general nutrition rules in mind, you’ll be on the right track toward healthy eating for life:
- Pay attention to portion control; quantities depend on whether you’re trying to lose or maintain weight. In most restaurants, an appetizer serving is often closer to an appropriate serving size than an entrée.
- Always drink plenty of water.
- Vary your food choices to make sure you get a wide variety of vitamins and other nutrients and to avoid boredom.
- Know the recommended daily calorie intake for your age, weight, height, activity level, and gender.
- Don’t deprive yourself of foods you love; just enjoy them in moderation.
Your Diet and Your Health: Poor Diet, Poor Health
Many foods have a huge impact on heart health. Research has long shown that fruits and vegetables and a diet rich in whole grains and low in saturated fats can help protect the body from heart disease and high blood pressure, while a diet high in saturated and trans fats without enough fruits and vegetables can actually cause those diseases.
Even small diet deficiencies can have an enormously negative impact on your health. The most common health problem due to a lack of nutrients in the United States is iron deficiency, says Wolf. Menstruating women and girls need plenty of iron in their diets to replace what they lose each month during their periods. Iron is also an essential nutrient for infants, children, and growing teens.
Another example is calcium, needed to keep bones strong and healthy, says Wolf. Without it, the body can develop osteoporosis, a health condition characterized by weak and brittle bones.
Eating a well-rounded and varied diet will go a long way toward making sure you have all the nutrients you need. Remember that our body uses everything we put into it, and what we give it determines how it’s used — for good health, or for bad.
- Date August 25, 2015
- Tags Health