When we say healthy food, it means different things to different people. For some, healthy food means a bland diet free from salt and pepper; for others, it means a diet rich in low-fat foods and high in fiber. Still others believe that healthy food means cooked and packaged in such a way that no toxins or impurities can escape its confines. Yet, a truly healthy diet encompasses more than these simple notions.
In order to get all the nutrients and vitamins you need, you have to eat healthy. A healthy diet is essentially one which helps sustain or promote general health: sufficient macronutrient intake, fluid, energy, micronutrient, and adequate caloric intake. But what exactly are the foods that provide the nutrients? What are the nutrients in which we should focus our diets?
Carbohydrates provide two of the main nutrients in healthy foods – protein and fiber. For most people, white bread, potatoes, pasta, rice, cereals, corn, and other grain products provide the bulk of their daily carbohydrate intake. The kind of carbohydrates you should be aiming for are complex carbohydrates, which includes pasta, whole grains, potatoes, and fruits and vegetables. With whole grains, you get fiber as well as protein, helping you stay full for longer and increasing your metabolism. Fiber also keeps you from consuming empty calories, which are basically sugar and white flour.
Unhealthy foods, on the other hand, include all those foods that are high in fat, sodium, cholesterol, and junk. These kinds of foods add nothing good to your diet, but do everything bad. Unhealthy fats and sodium come from hydrogenated oils, deep fried foods, junk food, processed foods, and other sources. High cholesterol levels are usually caused by unhealthy foods, as are high blood pressure and other disorders.
Processed meat and poultry products are high in saturated fat, which is commonly found in fatty cuts of meat. Unhealthy fats are also found in canned and processed meats, which often have been subjected to low or no cooking. These kinds of food can clog arteries, increase LDL cholesterol levels (bad) in the body, and cause other health problems. Eating more olive oil, fish, vegetables, legumes, seeds, nuts, and whole grains helps lower LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol (good), which are the good kind.
Another easy way to lose weight and keep healthy is to replace junk food with whole grains. This can be accomplished by adding more fresh vegetables to your everyday meals. This is especially helpful if you eat white bread, which is typically refined and high in sugar, trans-fats, and other unhealthy ingredients. It would also help to eat more fruits and vegetables, as they are packed with essential vitamins and minerals. Of course, one should eat plenty of lean meats and poultry, but even these foods can be high in fat and sodium.
Finally, add a serving of calcium to your daily dose of fruits and vegetables every day. This can be accomplished by eating more soy yogurt, calcium-fortified orange juice, or a glass of soy milk each day. Calcium is necessary for strong bones and teeth. Milk offers many sources of vitamin c, which is needed to prevent colds and flu, as well as strengthen and improve the immune system.
With healthy eating habits, the amount of calories you consume will reduce, resulting in weight loss, less fat, and improved health. The best way to start making these changes is to incorporate a healthy diet and exercise program into your lifestyle. Make an appointment with your physician today and discuss the benefits of healthy eating. Include a daily dose of supplements that contain vitamins A, D, E, B, and C, which are proven to support good health, strong bones, and lower LDL cholesterol. You’ll be surprised at how much easier it is to have healthy, glowing skin and healthier organs.