By Sydney Heiden
There is a ton of conflicting information available today about what is a healthy and nutritious diet, and sometimes it is difficult to separate fact from fiction. Basically, it can be easy to follow a healthy diet by making a few minor adjustments to your current diet.
Most people don't realize the incredible impact that a healthy diet can have on our quality of life. The difference between a good diet and a poor diet can mean the difference between having good health and having poor health. Most people would not knowingly choose poor health, but that is exactly what they are doing by following a poor diet.
Along with regular physical activity, a healthy diet is the single most important factor determining your weight. If a person is overweight, the chances of developing including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, and other health issues increase significantly.
The first step to a healthy diet is to include food from all food groups, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean proteins in your diet.
It is well documented that a diet containing fruits and vegetables can lower the risk of heart disease, stoke and cancer. It is recommended that you eat five servings of fruit and vegetables a day.
The healthiest vegetables are the dark green vegetables like broccoli and lettuces, and orange vegetables like carrots, sweat potatoes and squash, and red vegetables like peppers and tomatoes.
You should eat a variety of fruits each day. Fresh is better, but canned, dried or frozen will still help with your diet. Limit the amount of fruit juices as they can be high in sugar.
Whole grains are an excellent source of fiber, which can reduce you risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and diabetes. You should choose whole grain cereals, bread, rice and pasta. Be sure the list of ingredients refers to WHOLE grain.
A diet should include legumes. This includes beans, peas and lentils. These are low in fat, contain no cholesterol and are high in protein. A vegetarian diet needs to include lots of legumes to replace the protein from meats. Legumes are also a good source of fiber.
A healthy diet will limit the amount of meat, and will insure that the meat is lean, containing limited amounts of fat. Limit the amount of red meat, and use more poultry and fish. Do not fry the meat, instead, bake, broil or grill.
Use low-fat dairy products, such as low-fat yogurt, cheese or milk. Dairy products lower the risk of diabetes and build strong bones.
Limit the quantities of alcohol, sugars, fats and soft drinks. These can contribute to many diseases, including high blood pressure, heart disease and many forms of cancer.
There are a variety of foods that should not be present in your diet except in very small amounts. These foods, such as sugars, alcohol, and some fats, contribute to diseases and poor health.
Some fats are healthy when used in moderate amounts. Monounsaturated fats (olive oil, flaxseed oil, peanut oil and avocados) and polyunsaturated fats (safflower, sesame, and sunflower seeds) will raise your good cholesterol levels. Use these fats when cooking to improve your health.
Other fats are detrimental to your health, and should be limited, if not eliminated entirely. Saturated fat and trans fatty acids raise your bad cholesterol levels, contributing to your risk of heart disease.
Trans fatty acids are found in most cooking oils, shortening and margarine. Trans fatty acids are found in fried foods. Saturated fats are found in beef, veal, lamb and pork, which is why fish and chicken are a healthier choice. Saturated fats are also found in lard, butter, cream and whole milk dairy products.
Always check the labels before purchasing, and make sure the ingredients do not include saturated fats, trans fatty acids or hydrogenated fats.
It is not difficult to follow a healthy diet. A few simple changes to your diet can provide you with better health, a longer life and more energy.
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