How Healthy Is My Lunch?
Selecting the correct fuel for your day is essential to your health and wellbeing. It can make all the difference in how your body feels and performs throughout the day.
When it comes to lunch, it can be easy to fall into a pattern of reaching for unhealthy packaged foods or fast-food drive-throughs. But there are plenty of healthy alternatives available for you to choose from.
Protein is one of the essential dietary staples humans rely on to stay healthy and strong. This complex compound performs many important functions within the body, such as muscle building and repair.
Proteins are composed of amino acids, or organic compounds composed of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen and sulfur atoms. Depending on the number and sequence of these amino acids, they can form various types of proteins.
As you can imagine, vitamins and minerals are vital for supporting a healthy immune system and keeping cells functioning optimally. Your body requires constant consumption of these vital nutrients to repair itself; that means adding them to every meal to ensure you don’t miss out on their essential benefits.
Get the most out of your protein by pairing it with various other foods. For instance, try making a protein and grain bowl for an energy-packed lunch that’s also nutritious; or opt for a high-protein, low-fat sandwich filled with fresh veggies to tantalize any appetite. When pairing protein with other foods, be sure to include fruits, vegetables and whole grains so that you’re getting all essential micronutrients.
Vegetables are one of the healthiest foods to include in your diet, being low in calories and fat but packed with essential nutrients for good health. Furthermore, they’re high in dietary fiber as well as vitamins and minerals – especially antioxidants – which may help protect you from disease and reduce the risk of certain cancers.
Veges are an excellent way to add color, texture and nutrients to your lunch. Try incorporating them into salads, stir-frys or roasted dishes for extra nutrition and flavor.
They’re also an excellent source of vitamin C, potassium and folic acid. Leafy green vegetables such as spinach or kale are particularly rich in these essential nutrients that may help protect against heart disease and lower blood pressure levels.
Jessica Jones from SELF magazine suggests that for a balanced lunch, you should incorporate different food groups such as proteins, fats and carbohydrates. To stay full throughout the day, she suggests choosing a combination of proteins, fats and starches that will satisfy your hunger without adding too many extra calories to your plate.
Vegetables make for a nutritious lunch, but it’s important to know which ones are best suited for you. Here are some of the most popular varieties to get you started:
Fruits make a nutritious addition to any lunch, as they’re packed with essential vitamins, minerals and fiber that will keep you feeling full for longer – helping to prevent overeating.
Depending on the type of fruit, you can add a small amount to a sandwich or handful to your salad. For instance, raisins in Moroccan chicken salad or apple slices in Waldorf salad are both delicious options!
When it comes to providing healthy lunches for kids, fruits are the way to go. Not only do they contain vitamin C and fiber, but their high amounts of a specific enzyme called fluoride also aid in tooth development.
Fatty fruits like avocados and salmon provide protein and healthy fats to your lunch, making them the ideal addition to sandwiches, tacos, grain bowls, wraps and black bean soup. When pairing blackberries, kiwis or honeydew melon with your meal it can increase its antioxidant power as well as provide essential vitamins and minerals like potassium, calcium and folate.
However, it is essential to know that eating too much sugar can lead to weight gain and that fruits should only be eaten in moderation or at the right time. Eating fruit before dinner isn’t recommended since it may make you sleepy; similarly, having fruits with your main meal could cause indigestion.
Whole grains are an excellent source of fiber, protein from plants, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Furthermore, they contain antioxidants which may help in the prevention of disease.
Your kitchen likely contains many varieties of whole grains, such as wheat, oats, barley, quinoa, spelt, rye and corn. Look for products labeled “whole grain” at the beginning of their ingredients list.
Refined grains have been refined to remove their bran, germ and endosperm (fiber), while whole grains retain all these vital nutrients. That makes them great sources of soluble fiber which helps regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
They can help prevent diabetes by managing your blood glucose levels. One study revealed that women who consumed two to three servings of whole grains daily had a 30% lower risk for developing diabetes compared to those who didn’t consume any.
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, you should aim for at least half your grains each day to be whole grains. That would include six ounce equivalents of bread, cup of cooked pasta or rice or cereal and 1 cup dry cereal (ranging from 1/4 cup dense granola cereal up to one-and-a-half cups for some unsweetened puffed cereals).
Nuts make for a nutritious and delicious snack that’s packed with essential nutrients like protein, fibre, healthy fats and minerals. Plus they contain antioxidants like vitamin E and flavonoids for extra protection!
They contain high levels of “good” fats (monounsaturated) and low amounts of “bad” fats (trans fats). As such, these help lower cholesterol levels and decrease the risk of heart disease.
Nuts contain beneficial nutrients for inflammation management and cardiovascular health, thanks to their n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, antioxidant vitamins, and phenolic compounds with antiinflammatory effects.
Studies have demonstrated that nut consumption significantly reduces circulating inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein, interleukin-6 and fibrinogen.
It is possible that exercise helps protect against cardiovascular disease, though the evidence for this is limited.
Furthermore, studies have reported a link between higher nut intake and a decreased risk of colorectal cancer among both men and women. This suggests that eating more nuts could be beneficial for both sexes; however, further investigation is necessary to confirm this finding.
Canned fish is an incredibly nutrient-rich food, making it a great lunch choice. It’s high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids which may reduce the risk of heart disease and blood pressure.
Food sources like tuna, salmon, mackerel and sardines are packed with essential nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, choline and iron. Furthermore, many canned fish such as tuna, salmon, mackerel or sardines contain bones which add even more nutritional value.
Some of the finest canned fish brands are made with sustainably caught, wild-caught seafood. The canned fish industry is on the rise and there are many excellent products to choose from.
LaRuche offers an impressive selection of European seafood products that meet the highest quality and safety criteria. Their delicious cans make a great source of protein for lunch, keeping you full and contented throughout the day.
Though canned fish is generally healthier than its fresh counterpart, it still contains sodium. That’s why it’s wise to rinse any canned fish before eating it.
Avocados make for a nutritious and delicious addition to any lunchbox. Packed full of essential minerals like potassium, magnesium, fiber, folate, and monounsaturated fats – avocados make the perfect meal!
These fruits and vegetables are an excellent source of antioxidants, such as lutein and zeaxanthin. These protect the eyes from UV rays and may help prevent cataracts.
Avocados are an excellent source of dietary folate, which may have a beneficial effect on certain cancers. This nutrient, combined with its phytochemicals and carotenoids, help suppress tumor growth by controlling hormones responsible for cell division.
Avocados also contain Vitamin K, an essential nutrient for blood clotting and bone health. Not only that, but this vitamin also boosts immunity, promotes cardiovascular wellness and enhances skin hydration.
Finally, avocados provide a good source of omega-3 fatty acids which have been known to reduce inflammation in the body, thus decreasing the risk of chronic illnesses like diabetes or autoimmune diseases.
When ripe, an avocado’s skin will start to brown slightly; however, this is a completely normal process that won’t affect its flavor or appearance in any way.