A Healthy Diet Food: And Medical Tips
A healthy diet means eating the right amount, nutrient dense foods from all major food groups.
People often think of “one diet” as a specific weight loss plan, but the diet refers only to the type and amount of food a person eats.
A healthy diet should include a balance of several food groups, as no one group can provide everything the body needs for good health.
Making healthier food choices reduces the risk of many chronic health conditions, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.
There is a wealth of information available, so designing a suitable, healthy diet can seem overwhelming.That said, some simple changes can make the diet more nutritious and reduce the risk of many medical problems.
What is healthful eating?
Eating a balanced diet means eating the right amount of food from all the main food groups.These food groups are:
The following sections discuss the healthiest options from these food groups.
Whole grains are products made from whole grains, which include germs and bran. In contrast, refined grains contain only part of the grain.
Whole grain foods have excellent health benefits. A 2016 meta-analysis looked at 45 different studies, leading to the conclusion that a high intake of whole grains helps protect against many health conditions, including the following benefits:
Low risk of heart disease
Low risk of heart disease
A lower total cancer risk
Reduced all mortality
Whole-grain foods are high in fiber and are good sources of B vitamins and trace minerals, including iron, zinc, and magnesium. If they have gone through a purification process, the grains lose their healing properties.
Examples of whole grains are:
Whole Wheat Pasta
Whole-grain cereals, such as oatmeal
To ensure that grains are whole, refer to the term “whole” or “whole grain” as the first ingredient a manufacturer has listed on the package under nutritional information.
Fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), choosing different types of colored fruits and vegetables is the best way to get all the vitamins and minerals of the body.
The AHA recommends filling half of the plate with fruits or vegetables for each meal, producing 4.5 cups per day. This quantity may include fresh, frozen and canned varieties.
For the most health benefits, people can check product labels and avoid canned, frozen, or dried products with high sodium or added sugars.
Juices labeled “100%” are part of this food group, but it is better to eat whole fruits or vegetables, as they will provide more fiber.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that a diet high in fruits and vegetables can help with weight management programs. The CDC also links this type of diet to a lower risk of many conditions, including:
high blood pressure
All fruits and vegetables have health benefits, and healthcare professionals recommend that people consume a wide variety.Read here about the top healthy fruits most healthy vegetables.
Protein is an important macronutrient that every cell in the body needs. It helps to build and repair cells and body tissues including skin, hair, muscles and bone. Protein is also important for blood clots, immune system reactions, hormones and enzymes.
Many protein-rich foods also contain high levels of minerals, including iron, magnesium, and zinc.
Protein occurs in both animal and plant foods. Animal sources include meat, fish and eggs. Beans, nuts, and soy are protein options after a vegetarian or vegan diet.
A general guideline of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that people on a 2,000-calorie diet get 50 grams (g) of protein per day. However, different protein needs will vary depending on a person’s level of activity and weight. A healthy diet should include a range of protein foods.
Read more about high protein diets and plant-based sources of protein.
Dairy products can be excellent sources of calcium. A calcium-rich diet promotes healthy bones and teeth.
According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), the dairy food group includes:
Liquid milk products
Milk foods that maintain their calcium content, such as yogurt and cheese
Calcium-fortified soymilk, or soy drinks
Milk-based foods that do not retain calcium, such as cream, cream cheese, and butter, are not part of this food group.
The USDA suggests that people may need 2-3 cups of dairy products per day.
There is some controversy as to whether dairy is good or bad for you.
Choose low-fat or fat-free versions of dairy products such as milk and yogurt to benefit heart health. However, consuming dairy is not necessary to be healthy, as long as people get the necessary nutrients, such as calcium, from nondoleic sources. Dairy options can be part of a healthy diet.
Fats is an essential part of a healthy diet. Fat is essential for nervous system function, energy, absorption of certain vitamins and skin, hair and joint health.
Fats is found in both animal and plant foods.There are several main types of fat, and some are healthier than others:
Monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats are healthy fats that can promote heart health. Good sources include avocados, fish, nuts, seeds, and olives.
Saturated fats and trans fats can increase total cholesterol and low density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol. LDL may increase the risk of heart disease. Saturated fats usually come from animal products, including creams, fatty meats, and fried foods.
The FDA recommends that people get 78 grams of fat per day in a 2,000 calorie diet. People should aim to get less than 10% of their daily calories from saturated fat.
With choosing the healthiest foods from each food group, the following tips will help a person follow a healthy diet.
Tip 1: Manage portion size
People of different ages, sexes and activity levels require different amounts of food, but many people consume more energy than they use to. Research shows that portion size is an important factor, and weight increases by larger portions than necessary.
The AHA explains that a portion is what a person chooses to eat, while a serving is a list of food manufacturers on the nutrition facts label.
Examples of servings are a slice of bread and a wedge of watermelon. AHS reports that portion sizes in restaurants have increased dramatically over the years.
Paying attention to what a serving is, how many calories it has and how much food a person is eating can make the difference between obesity and maintaining a healthy weight.
Tip 2: Eat fresh and avoid processed
According to a 2018 study, ultra-processed foods can make up to 60% of the calories people consume in the US.
Fresh foods are likely to be “rich in nutrients”, while processed foods are often “energy-rich” from excess fats and sugars. Processed foods not only contain added ingredients, including dyes and preservatives, but processing itself can destroy nutrients.
Whole fruits, such as fresh fruits, are a good source of vitamins and minerals. Many processed foods have little nutritional value. Excessive intake of processed foods can increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Tip 3: Limit added sugars
Adding sugar to foods and drinks enhances the taste but adds little or no nutritional value. Many people in America eat too much sugar, which leads to weight gain, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Conversely, naturally occurring sugars can lead to health benefits. These include fructose from fruit and lactose from dairy products.
The AHA recommends that people not consume more than 25 grams of sugar for women and 36 grams for men. This amount does not include naturally occurring sugar, only sugar is added.
Swapping cakes and cookies for fruits, and removing or cutting out the sugar added to coffee and tea, can reduce daily sugar intake.Spices like ketchup can also give a person more calories.
Replacing sweet soda with aromatic water and drinking alcohol in moderation can reduce excess calories.The CDC recommends limiting alcohol intake to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
Get tips for cutting sugar here.
Tip 4: Replace animal fats in the diet
Animal products are often high in saturated fat and include red meat, butter, cheese, and cream. Saturated fat is difficult for the body to break down, so harmful cholesterol levels can increase, increasing the risk of heart disease.
AHA recommends substituting foods high in saturated fat with more healthful options to lower cholesterol and improve body fat profile. Healthy, unsaturated fats occur in oily fish and nuts.
To reduce the amount of unhealthy fat in the diet:
Choose lean meat like poultry
Choose low-fat dairy products
Cook meat and chicken without skin
Limit red meat intake
Grill or boil meat instead of frying
Use vegetable oil instead of animal fat
Replace some meat servings with oily fish, nuts, beans or beans
Tip 5: Sodium down, potassium up
The sodium found in salt is directly linked to high blood pressure because it increases water retention. Potassium can counteract the harmful effects of salt, so eating less sodium and more potassium leads to a change that can promote heart health.
Banana, tuna and butternut squash are good sources of potassium. Too much potassium can lead to irregular heart rhythms, however, so people can talk to their physician or other health care practitioners before using supplements.
Limiting the intake of processed foods will reduce sodium content, as manufacturers add salt during processing. The majority of sodium in the American diet comes from processed and restaurant food, while relatively little comes from cooking or table salt.
To maintain the taste while cutting salt, try to eat herbal foods, such as basil, rosemary, garlic, oregano, paprika, and cayenne, or low-salt spices, such as yellow mustard. People can also buy low sodium seasonings.
Tip 6: Add calcium and vitamin D
Calcium is important for strengthening and maintaining bone structure. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium.
While dairy is the most well-known source, there are many plant-based sources of calcium.
Good sources of calcium in addition to dairy include:
Dietary sources do not provide enough vitamin D for the body. Sunlight is necessary to help the body synthesize vitamin D.
Exposing some bare skin to the sun each day will help maintain calcium levels, and vitamin D. Here are some tips to get more Vitamin D.