Even if you don’t have a weight issue, it is important to pay attention to what you eat. Relying on processed foods or eating an unbalanced diet can lead to nutritional deficiencies. With so much conflicting advice, many people are confused about what a healthy, balanced diet looks like. Let’s take a back-to-basics look at how to eat for optimum health.
Fruits and Vegetables
Regardless of your weight and dietary habits, eating more fruits and vegetables will improve your health. These wonderful foods are packed full of vitamins that help to support your skin, hair and body. Some of the healthiest fruits are berries, such as strawberries and blueberries, which are incredibly high in vitamin C and healthy antioxidants.
Many people find it easy to include more fruit in their diet, but are less enthusiastic about eating their greens. Not eating vegetables means missing out on essential nutrients such as zinc, vitamin E and potassium. If you find it difficult to get excited by vegetables, try cooking them into a slow-cooked stew with rosemary for a delicious and satisfying meal. Or how about sweet strips of bell pepper, stir-fried with garlic and ginger? Invest in a good cookbook and spend some time experimenting with different cooking methods to make vegetables appealing.
Despite what some diet books may say, fat is not the enemy! However, it is important to make sure that you are eating the right kind of fat. Omega 3 is essential for human brain function and cardiovascular health, but it is found in relatively few foods. The best source of omega 3 is oily fish, but you can also get omega 3 by eating walnuts, flaxseed and kiwi fruit. Eggs can be a good source of omega 3, but the corn-based diets fed to factory-farmed chickens reduce the omega 3 content of their eggs. Chickens fed on an organic diet of green plants, seeds and insects produce eggs that are much higher in omega 3.
Other essential fatty acids, including omega 6 and omega 9, are found in nuts and seeds. Olive oil is also a very healthy source of fat as it is high in vitamin E and contains a variety of high-quality long-chain fatty acids. In contrast, the saturated fats found in meat, cheese and cream increase cholesterol, which clogs the arteries around the heart, increasing the risk of heart attack. Even if you are not overweight, it is important to limit the amount of saturated fat that you eat; the fat might not be visible on your waistline, but it could still be damaging your arteries.
Protein is an essential part of the human diet. Protein-rich foods such as lean meat, fish and low-fat dairy products provide the amino acids that the body needs to grow and repair itself. Most people rely on meat to supply the protein they need, but eating too much red meat can raise blood pressure. Aim to have at least one vegetarian day per week to take advantage of the great variety of healthy plant proteins that are found in beans, lentils and peas.
Processed food should make only the occasional appearance in a healthy diet. Highly processed foods such as white bread, soda, candy and chips retain very few of the nutrients of the foods used to make them. Manufacturers keep costs low by filling processed foods with sugar, salt and cheap refined carbohydrates, which can spike blood sugar and leave you feeling sluggish and hungry again only a couple of hours after eating. Skip the processed snacks and instead opt for wholegrain bread, natural fruit juice, dried fruit or nuts for a healthier alternative between meals.
Author: Jordan Traeger on behalf of ShortTermHealthInsurance.net – Jordan is a freelance writer whose articles appear on various online blogs. For information on health insurance for people without jobs visit the website.