Secrets of Balanced Diet
BRING BALANCE & VARIETY TO YOUR BALANCED DIET
Counting your calories may be the key to losing weight, but it is still important (and not tricky) to make sure you are getting good nutrition to fuel your body so you can be more active and have more fun. Here are how to achieve a balanced diet.
Most Americans do not eat as much fiber as they should. Your daily fiber goal should be 20 to 30 grams, which includes soluble and insoluble fiber.
Insoluble fiber can be found in whole wheat and brown rice, while soluble fiber is a part of oatmeal, beans and barley. Soluble fiber helps to lower cholesterol, and insoluble fiber keeps your digestive tract healthy.
Along with aiding digestion, consuming the right amount of fiber each day can help lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes. The best part? Fiber helps keep you feeling full, which can help prevent you from overeating and keep you on track with your diet.
Tips to help boost your fiber
- Making soup? Add extra veggies.
- Add wheat germ or oat bran to yogurt and casseroles. You won’t notice the difference.
- Add a tablespoon or two of ground flaxseed to your morning smoothie.
- Leave the skins on when you eat fruits and vegetables.
- Toss some garbanzo beans or kidney beans in your salad.
- Choose whole grain breads and crackers. Whole wheat or whole grain flour should be listed as the first ingredient on the food label.
The body needs a constant supply of protein to repair and rebuild cells that are worn or damaged. About half of the protein we consume creates enzymes, which help cells carry out necessary chemical reactions. Proteins also transport oxygen to cells, help muscles contract and produce antibodies. Men should consume about 55 grams of protein a day, while women should consume about 45 grams per day.
Moderation is key when consuming carbohydrates. Carbs shouldn’t be feared when you are on a diet, because they energize your body, which is necessary for your daily exercise.
There are two types of carbohydrates: sugar and starch. Sugars are in fruit, milk and granulated sugar, and starches include grains and potatoes. Your body converts all sugars and starches to glucose source of energy.
Positive carbohydrate choices include whole grains, reduced-fat dairy products and a variety of fruits and vegetables. Want to eliminate empty calories? Cut out packaged cakes, pies and cookies. These choices are highly processed and don’t contribute to a healthy diet.
Although saturated and trans fats have a larger effect on blood cholesterol than eating foods high in cholesterol, you should still limit your daily intake of cholesterol to 300 mg. Cholesterol is found in foods from animals, such as eggs, meat and dairy products.
Believe it: There are some healthy fats! Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are found in olive and canola oils and nuts and seeds, are all healthier options. Adults should limit fat to about 30% of their calories each day. This means you should be eating no more than 50 grams of fat daily if you are consuming 1,400 to 1,500 calories per day.
While saturated fat is found mostly in high-fat meats and dairy foods, it is also found in coconut oil, palm kernel oil and some processed foods. Consume only 17 grams of saturated fat per day, which is 10% of calories following a 1,400 to 1,500 calorie-a-day diet.
LDL (bad) cholesterol increases with saturated fat and trans fat, increasing your risk of coronary artery disease. Trans fats can also decrease HDL (good) cholesterol. Limit trans fat as often as you can, and try to stay below 1.5 to 2.0 grams per day. Foods that commonly contain trans fat include vegetable shortening, stick margarine, fried foods, processed foods and store-bought baked goods.
Restrict sodium to no more than 2,300 mg a day equivalent to about one teaspoon of table salt. The best way to reduce salt is to cut back on restaurant and processed foods like canned vegetables, deli meat and condiments. Generally, a food product that has been prepared for you to buy such as frozen dinners and convenience products will contain a high amount of sodium. Refer to the section on freezing foods to plan ahead and freeze healthy meals so you won’t be tempted by high-sodium packaged foods.
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