At the core of a balanced diet are foods that are high in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients and low in unnecessary fats and sugars. The following are essential parts of a balanced diet.
Besides being a great source of nutrition, fruits make quick and tasty snacks. Choose fruits that are in season in your area they are fresher and provide the most nutrients.
Vegetables are primary sources of essential vitamins and minerals. Dark, leafy greens generally contain the most nutrition and can be eaten at every meal. Examples include spinach, kale, green beans, broccoli, and collard greens.
In the United States, we consume refined white flour more than any other grain. During the refining process, the hull of the grain the outer shell is removed. Unfortunately, the hull is where the majority of the grain’s nutrition lies. Whole grains, which are prepared using the entire grain, including the hull, provide much more nutrition. Try switching from white to whole-grain breads and pastas.
Meats and beans are primary sources of protein, which is essential for proper muscle and brain development. Lean, low-fat meats such as chicken, fish, and certain cuts of beef and pork are the best option. Removing the skin and trimming off any visible fat are easy ways to reduce the amount of fat and cholesterol in meats.
Nuts and beans, such as lentils, peas, almonds, sunflower seeds, and walnuts, are also good sources of protein. Tofu, tempeh, and other soy-based products are excellent sources of protein and are healthy alternatives to meat.
Dairy products provide calcium, vitamin D, and other essential nutrients. However, they are also major sources of fat, so it is best to choose reduced-fat or fat-free cheeses, milk, and yogurt.
Oils should be used sparingly. Opt for low-fat versions of products that contain oil, such as salad dressing and mayonnaise. Good oils, such as olive oil, can replace fattier vegetable oil in your diet. Avoid foods that have been deep-fried in oil because they contain a large number of empty calories.
The USDA highlights these key substances that Americans should consume less of in order to maintain a balanced diet and a healthy weight:
solid and saturated fats
If you have questions about your diet or feel that you need to lose weight or eat better, schedule an appointment with your doctor or a nutritionist. They can suggest dietary changes that will help you get the nutrition you need and, if necessary, lose weight.
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