Eating well-balanced meals can promote good health, consistent energy levels and weight maintenance while decreasing your risk for certain diseases.
The MyPlate model recommends filling half your plate with vegetables and fruits, while limiting starchy foods like potatoes that could harm both your heart and mood.
Fruits & Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables can make up the foundation of a delicious healthy meal. Not only do these tasty foods taste fantastic, but they’re packed full of essential nutrients and fibre too!
Fruits and vegetables contain many vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals essential for overall good health. Furthermore, fruits and vegetables provide ample dietary fibre that can support gut health while decreasing your risk for heart disease, diabetes and some forms of cancer.
Botanically speaking, vegetables refer to all edible parts of a plant’s edible parts – from its flower buds and roots through its leaves and stalks – while fruits refer specifically to certain parts of a plant such as its seeds or matured ovary.
Vegetables come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, from tiny carrots to giant pumpkins. All have distinct colors and nutrient profiles; therefore it is important to ensure you include a wide variety in your diet to gain the most benefit possible from it.
While tomatoes technically qualify as fruits, their savory taste often separates them from being consumed as such a fruit like apples or berries.
No matter their botanical definitions, confusion remains about what distinguishes fruits from vegetables. If in doubt, check with FoodData Central (FDC), an open-access government nutrition database providing details about all food including produce.
At least 400 grams (or five servings) of fruits and vegetables should be included each day as part of your daily intake to meet recommended guidelines. This helps ensure you’re receiving enough fiber in your diet while helping avoid too much added sugar consumption. It is especially important to incorporate colorful veggies such as bell peppers in meals since these offer more health benefits than others.
Add lean protein to your meals to enhance their nutrition. It serves as an important source of energy and supports efficient functioning in all of your body systems.
Lean proteins may help boost your metabolism, helping you burn calories more quickly throughout the day and may aid weight loss! In addition, these protein sources contain amino acids which support muscle development.
The United States Department of Agriculture defines “lean” protein foods as those containing less than 10 grams of total fat per 3.5-ounce serving, including four and a half grams or less of saturated fat and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol per serving – this definition encompasses meat, fish, poultry and egg products.
Dry beans, peas and lentils are excellent sources of lean protein that also contain high amounts of fiber and low amounts of fat, providing you with long-term satiation when consumed.
Tofu is another plant-based protein source rich in cancer-protecting isoflavones. According to Davis, one 3.5-ounce serving provides approximately 10 grams of protein with less than 1.5 grams of saturated fat content.
Although some may be concerned with the high amounts of fat contained in soy products, they’re actually an ideal choice for anyone trying to cut back on their saturated fat intake. Furthermore, soy products are gluten-free and contain fiber which has been proven to lower blood cholesterol levels.
Chicken is another protein-packed choice. A 3.5-ounce serving of cooked boneless skinless chicken breast contains approximately 30 grams of protein.
Avoid chicken skin as this contains many calories and fat. Furthermore, dark meat cuts like drumsticks and thighs are less healthy than their white meat counterparts, such as breast, tenderloin or wings.
Oysters are another delicious low-cal protein option you can enjoy raw or roasted, providing your body with plenty of essential nutrients and making an easy addition to salads and other dishes. Be sure to add them a citrus-y vinaigrette sauce, such as vinegar-based Mignonette sauce for an unforgettable flavor experience at an extremely low-calorie count!
Whole grains are essential components of a nutritious diet because they supply our bodies with fiber, protein and other key nutrients needed to stay healthy. Plus, eating them reduces your risk for numerous conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity.
They may not contain as many calories as fruits and vegetables, but grains provide our bodies with complex carbohydrates they can easily break down as well as being packed full of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Diets high in whole grains have been linked with decreased risks for multiple health conditions, including heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes. By adding whole grains into meals you’re more likely to feel full and satisfied than ever before!
Whole grains can be found in many foods, including breads, cereals, pasta and rice dishes. Furthermore, these options tend to be less costly than alternatives made with refined grains.
When buying whole grains, look for products labeled with “whole grain” on their labels and aim to purchase those made entirely from 100% whole grains. As some food items contain both refined and whole grains, be sure to read through all ingredient lists carefully to make sure you are purchasing those with the most nutritional benefits.
Another crucial consideration when purchasing grains is how they were processed. Rolled grains, for instance, are processed using steam before being compressed between two smooth rollers to increase surface area and shorten cooking times – this also extends their shelf stability for greater shelf longevity.
Grains can also be quickly cooked in either the microwave or on the stove top for quick and effortless preparation, making these an excellent addition to any meal while helping you reach your daily fiber consumption goal.
Contrary to most carbohydrates, whole grains do not contain gluten – an naturally present protein found in wheat that can be harmful for most individuals but may cause reactions in those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
However, it’s essential to keep in mind that soaking and cooking whole grains before eating them can reduce their lectin content – small proteins which cause inflammation in the body as well as poor gut health.
Low-Fat Milk & Dairy Products
Low-fat milk and dairy products can provide essential daily nutritional needs. Dairy contains calcium, potassium, vitamin D and protein which all play key roles in maintaining good health; plus it may even lower your risk of osteoporosis!
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend three servings of dairy foods daily, such as milk, yogurt, cheese and calcium-fortified soymilk beverages (soy beverages).
Dairy products can help improve the nutritional quality of your diet by contributing vital minerals like calcium to keep you in good health.
Calcium can be obtained through fortified foods and beverages such as cereals, orange juice, rice and almond beverages; however, to meet your calcium requirements you may require eating additional dairy foods in addition to those fortified products.
Consider selecting low-fat or fat-free dairy milk, yogurt and cheese when possible; they offer lower calories, saturated fat and cholesterol intake while still providing enough protein, calcium, vitamin D and other essential nutrients to meet daily requirements.
Substituting low-fat or fat-free milk as an alternative to water when making hot cereals, oatmeal and other breakfast dishes. You could also include it in your coffee drink and use it as an ingredient when making frozen yogurt sherbet sorbet and low-fat pudding treats as snacks.
Keep in mind that dairy products contain saturated fat and cholesterol, which may increase your “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and raise the risk of heart disease. Therefore, limit how much whole milk and cheese you consume for maximum health benefits.
Another option would be selecting skim, 2%, or 1% low-fat milk as these alternatives tend to be less costly and still provide plenty of nutrition while being lower in terms of fat, calories, and saturated fat content.
Opting for dairy products that contain less or no fat can help lower cholesterol and help control weight and calorie consumption more easily, but always check labels on all dairy products for information regarding fat content and calories as well as saturated fat levels.