Why is it important to eat a healthy diet? Eating the right foods can keep you healthy now and later on in life.
Which foods are especially healthy?
●Fruits and vegetables – Eating fruits and vegetables can help prevent heart disease and strokes. Fruit may also help prevent certain types of cancers. Try to eat fruits and vegetables at each meal and for snacks. If you don’t have fresh fruits and vegetables, frozen or canned ones can be substituted. Physicians recommend at least 2 1/2 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruits each day.
●Foods with fiber – Eating foods with a lot of fiber can help prevent heart disease and strokes. Fiber can help control your blood sugar. Foods with a lot of fiber include vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, oatmeal, and some breads and cereals. You can tell how much fiber is in a food by reading the nutrition label. Physicians end eating 25 to 36 grams of fiber each day.
●Foods with folate – Folate should be taken by all females of child-bearing age. Folate helps the fetus form an intact spinal cord. Folate is found in many breakfast cereals, oranges, orange juice, and green leafy vegetables.
●Foods with calcium and vitamin D – Babies, children, and adults need calcium and vitamin D to help keep their bones strong. Calcium and vitamin D helps to prevent osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition that causes bones to get thin and break more easily than usual. Often we don’t get enough calcium and vitamin D in our diets and a supplement may be needed. Supplements are pills, capsules, liquids, or tablets that have nutrients in them.
●Foods with protein – Protein helps your muscles stay strong. Healthy foods with a lot of protein include chicken, fish, eggs, beans, nuts, and soy products.
Some experts recommend a “Mediterranean diet.” This involves eating a lot of fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and olive oil. It also includes fish, poultry, and dairy products, but not much red meat. Eating this way can help your overall health, and may lower your risk of having a stroke.
What foods should I avoid or limit? To eat a healthy diet, there are some things you should avoid or limit. They include:
●Fats – There are different types of fats. Some types of fats are better for your body than others.
Trans fats are especially unhealthy. Avoid margarines, many fast foods, and some store-bought baked goods. These can raise your cholesterol level and thereby increase your chance of getting heart disease.
The type of “polyunsaturated” fats found in fish seems to be healthy and can reduce your chance of getting heart disease. Other polyunsaturated fats might also be good for your health. When you cook, choose oils with healthier fats like as olive oil and canola oil.
●Sugar – Limit or avoid sugar, sweets, and refined grains. Refined grains are those in white bread, white rice, most pasta, and packaged “snack” foods. Whole grains, like whole-wheat bread and brown rice, have more fiber and are better for your health.
Avoiding sugar-sweetened beverages, like soda and sports drinks, can also help improve your health.
●Red meat – Red meat can increase your risk of certain health problems, including heart disease and cancer.
Can I drink alcohol as part of a healthy diet? People who drink a small amount of alcohol each day might have a lower chance of getting heart disease. But drinking alcohol can lead to problems. Men should drink 2 or less drinks on average per day, women 1 drink.
How many calories do I need each day? The number of calories you need each day depends on your weight, height, age, sex, and your activity level.
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