Eating whole, nutritious foods is important for living and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. A healthy diet can help you reach and maintain an optimal body weight, increase your energy and mood, reduce inflammation, and enable cell repair, which can also help reduce the risk of chronic diseases, like heart disease and cancer.
Five Simple Ways to Stay True to Your “Eat Healthier” New Year’s Resolutions
Keep frozen fruits and vegetables in your freezer. Frozen fruits and vegetables are harvested and flash frozen at peak freshness and nutrients, making them just as healthy as the fresh alternative. Plus, they usually offer a longer shelf life than fresh fruits and vegetables!
Frozen vegetables are an easy, time-saving addition to any meal and can be incorporated into stir fries, soups, and other meals just like fresh, raw vegetables. Frozen fruits can easily be thawed under refrigeration and added to salads, yogurts, and oatmeal or kept frozen and added to smoothies or used in baking.
Try sparkling water or plain water that is infused with fruits. Drinking fruit infused water is an easy and delicious way to stay hydrated without increasing your sugar and caloric intake. Simply add 2-3 slices of any citrus to your glass of water or combine a variety of fruits, such as lemons and blueberries or limes and raspberries, together to create tasty, naturally sweet beverages to sip on throughout the day.
Don’t skip breakfast! Eating breakfast jump-starts your metabolism, helping you burn calories throughout the day instead of conserving them. It will also help improve energy, concentration, and memory, making it incredibly important for children. Plus, eating a healthy, balanced breakfast means you are less likely to snack on less nutritious foods throughout the day.
For a simple, healthy breakfast, try a low-sugar whole grain cereal, breakfast smoothie, or plain greek or low-sugar yogurt topped with fruit and granola.
Eat more whole grains. A high fiber diet may help prevent cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, as well as help promote good digestive health. Instead of refined white grains, try making the simple switch to whole grain pastas, rice, and bread to increase your fiber intake. Quinoa is also a great source of fiber that is quick to cook and makes a great foundation for many entrees, such as burrito bowls or a simple chicken and vegetable medley.
Increase your whole fruits intake. Baked goods and other desserts provide very little nutritional value and are loaded with sugar. This causes blood sugar spikes, which leaves you feeling sluggish and hungry for more sugar filled foods. A fruit’s natural sweetness can help curb your sweet tooth and help you stay away from added sugars that are common in processed foods. Eating whole fruits, despite their natural sugar content, has been linked to a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.
A healthy, well-balanced diet includes:
Vegetables, such as spinach, broccoli, kale, and peas
Whole fruits, such as blueberries, apples, avocados, and strawberries
Whole grains, such as quinoa, barley, brown rice, and oats
Lean protein, such as beans, chicken, and fish
Our Nutrition Corner serves as a place to learn about new fruits and vegetables, their benefits and how they can help you, and simple ways to prepare them.
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Why do we need to eat vegetables?
Many vegetables are an important source of essential nutrients including potassium, dietary fiber, folate, vitamin A, and vitamin C. A diet rich in vegetables can lower blood pressure and reduce risk for chronic disease, such as cancer, heart disease, and type-2 diabetes. Most vegetables are naturally low in fat, calories, and cholesterol.
What are some vegetable options?
To maintain a healthy lifestyle, it is recommended to eat 1-4 cups of vegetables a day. Some of the most nutritious and readily available options include:
Sweet Potatoes, Yams
FEATURED VEGETABLE OF THE MONTH:
What are its health benefits?
Carrots are a root vegetable that are often known for being a good source of beta carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A to help support good vision. Carrots are also a great source of biotin, vitamin K, and potassium. A diet rich in carrots may help reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease, as well as improve eye health and weight loss management.
How to prepare: When preparing whole carrots for meals, wash each thoroughly, cut off the ends, and peel the skin before cooking. Carrots are traditionally cooked by roasting, steaming, or boiling, but can also be cooked on the grill or by sauteing.
Suggested use: Along with a side hummus or fat-free ranch, raw baby carrots offer the perfect mid-day snack! Cooked carrots are an easy, nutritious side to virtually any meal and also make a great addition to near any soup or stew.
Why do we need to eat whole, fresh fruits?
Many whole fruits are an important source of essential nutrients, including Vitamin C, antioxidants, potassium, dietary fiber, folate, and are naturally low in fat, cholesterol, sodium, and calories. Regularly consuming whole fruits can decrease the risk of many diseases as well as help support a healthy weight loss and management plan.
How should we be consuming fruits?
It is recommended that you obtain your daily intake of fruits by eating them whole, rather than drinking juices, which may be filled with added sugars, or blended drinks, which can lose some of its fiber during the blending process. Both juices and smoothies can affect one’s blood sugar as the higher sugar concentration is more quickly absorbed by the body, which can cause blood sugar spikes.
What are some whole fruit options?
To maintain a healthy lifestyle, it is recommended to eat at least 1 cup of whole fruits a day. Most whole fruits have a low to moderate Glycemic Index (GI), making them a healthy choice for diabetics to consume as well. Some of the most nutritious and readily available options include
* Has a low GI
FEATURED FRUIT OF THE MONTH:
What are the health benefits?
Despite being small, blueberries are incredibly nutrient-dense and high in fiber. They have one of the highest antioxidant levels of fruits and vegetables, and are composed mainly of flavonoid antioxidants. Along with the other free radical-fighting antioxidants, flavonoids are associated with anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties as well as can help fight against cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Studies suggest just one cup of blueberries a day can help reduce blood pressure, heart disease, and even have anti-diabetes effects by lowering blood sugar levels!
How to thaw:
To defrost frozen blueberries and other berries, simply place the desired amount in a resealable plastic bag and place in your refrigerator overnight. If you didn’t prepare in advance, simply place the desired amount of berries in a bowl and cover with cold water for 5 minutes. If the berries are still slightly frozen, drain the water and then add more cold water and let them sit for another 5 minutes.
Why do we need to eat whole grains?
Whole grains are an important source of many nutrients, including fiber, B vitamins, minerals, such as iron, magnesium, and selenium, and phytochemicals. Consuming whole grains help reduce the risk of chronic diseases as well as help with weight management due to their high fiber content, which will help you feel fuller for longer with fewer calories. Choosing whole grains over refined grains also helps those with diabetes control their blood sugar as they have a lower glycemic index (GI) and take longer to digest.
What makes up a whole grain?
- Bran – Fiber-rich outer layer of the grain. In addition to fiber, it contains many important minerals and B vitamins.
- Endosperm – Largest part of the grain and the least nutritious. It contains starchy carbohydrates, some protein, and a small amount of vitamins and minerals.
- Germ – The embryo, or core, of the grain that is filled with nutrients. It contains many B vitamins, vitamin E, phytochemicals, minerals, and healthy fats.
What is the difference between a whole grain and a refined grain?
The milling process refine a grain removes the bran and the germ, leaving only the endosperm, which is easy to chew and digest but has very little nutritional value. The milling also removes most of the fat content in the grain, which gives refined grains their long shelf life. Examples of refined grains are white rice and white flour.
What are some some whole grain options?
There are many different whole grain options to choose from. Some of the most nutritious and readily available sources include:
Old Fashioned Oats
Steel -cut Oats
FEATURED GRAIN OF THE MONTH:
What are its health benefits?
While quinoa is technically a seed, it is prepared and eaten similarly to rice, barley, and other grains. It is rich in protein and high in fiber, which can help reduce high blood pressure, diabetes, and lower cholesterol. It contains many important nutrients, such as lysine, iron, magnesium, and vitamin B2. These nutrients are all involved in many bodily functions, including tissue growth and repair as well as energy metabolism. Plus, quinoa is gluten-free, making it a great option for those with Celiac disease and gluten sensitivities.
There are three main types of quinoa: white, red, and black. While the red and black varieties have a slightly earthier flavor than the white variety, all three can be used interchangeably.
Why do we need to eat protein
Protein is essential for cell maintenance and repair, healthy hormone functions, and helps build muscles as well as antibodies for your immune system to better fight off infections. Protein also helps regulate blood sugar and keeps you feeling fuller for longer, which is why it’s important to eat when managing a healthy weight.
What is lean protein?
The USDA defines a lean protein source as having less than 10 grams of total fat. Lean proteins typically have fewer calories per serving than other sources of protein because of their lower fat content.
What are some lean protein options?
There are many different plant-based and animal-based lean protein sources to choose from. Some of the most nutritious and readily available sources include:
White Meat Chicken
Beans, Peas, Lentils
Eggs and Egg Whites
Plain Greek Yogurt
FEATURED PROTEIN OF THE MONTH:
What are its health benefits?
Turkey is a high protein food and packs an impressive 22 grams of protein per serving. Turkey is also an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals, and is particularly rich in B vitamins to support energy levels and amino acid formation. It also has high levels of selenium, which produces thyroid hormones that help regulate your metabolism.
Ground turkey is incredibly versatile and makes a great replacement for ground beef. Mix with breadcrumbs, eggs, and seasonings to create turkey meatballs and hamburgers, use it to create tacos, burritos, and enchiladas, or mix it into casseroles, sauces, and so much more!