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Good Foods for You

Veggies

Your mom was right; vegetables are essential for building a healthy body. The earth provides us with a huge assortment of delicious vegetables that should be the basis of your healthy diet. As a rule, you should eat no less than 2 cups of fresh vegetables every day. Choose a variety of vegetables, including dark, leafy varieties like broccoli and spinach. Sweet potatoes are a delicious alternative to white, and carrots make an excellent snack. Chickpeas and dry beans including kidney, lima and pinto beans are packed with beneficial nutrients. Meeting your daily vegetable requirements is easy when you reach for a fresh spinach salad instead of French fries, or grab a bag of baby carrots instead of chips.

Eating Grains

Our food guide suggests that we eat six ounces of grains on a daily basis. The average slice of bread contains just one ounce. Cereal is an obvious choice, with about one ounce of grain per cup. If you want to boost your grain intake and eat less, choose whole grain products. Rice, pasta and crackers are also healthy grain choices to incorporate into your daily diet.

Favor Fruits

Sweet, delicious fruits make choosing healthy foods so easy. Try to eat two cups of fruit each day. That’s about the equivalent of an apple and a banana. Toss a handful of grapes into a salad, or slice a banana over a bowl of cereal. Fruit salad is a great way to get a variety of flavors in one sitting. Fruits can be canned, frozen or dried, but fresh is always the best choice. A glass of fruit juice can also count toward fulfilling your daily intake, although fruit juices should be consumed in moderation.

Dairy

People of all ages need calcium for healthy teeth and bones. Kids from two to eight years of age require the calcium equivalent of about two cups of milk per day, while older kids, teenagers and adults need about three cups per day. At snack time, reach for calcium-rich yogurt and cheese. Watching your weight? Choose low-fat milk and dairy products. Even if you’re lactose intolerant, you can still reach your calcium requirements with lactose-free and calcium fortified food choices.

Meat and beans

Protein is a cornerstone of a healthy diet, and the food guide suggests no less than five ounces of protein-rich beans or meat every day. Remember, you’re making healthy choices, so avoid big fatty steaks and double quarter-pounders at the burger joint. Grill or bake your meat to reduce your fat intake. Enjoy nuts for a high-protein snack or salad garnish. Peas, beans and fish are other great ways to boost your protein.

Fat

Fat is an important part of your daily diet, but you can certainly have too much of this good thing. You can use butter and other high-fat foods, but do so in moderation. Too much of this type of fat can send your weight and cholesterol levels soaring. Rather than frying your foods in butter, margarine, shortening or lard, try sauting them in vegetable or chicken broth. Pass the butter, and reach for seasonings and fruit juice to add flavour to vegetables.

Processed foods are packed with salt, fats and additives, so try to limit your shopping to the fresh meat and produces aisles. If you must choose some pre-packaged foods, make sure to read the nutrition facts and ingredient labels before you buy. This is an important step to limiting your intake of sodium as well as saturated and trans fats.

Once you begin to make healthier food choices, you’ll begin to notice a change in all aspects of your lifestyle. Fueling your body with a nutrient-charged diet will give you energy and a brighter overall outlook. Those evenings of lying on the couch after consuming an eight-slice pizza will be behind you, as you begin to enjoy evening strolls after your healthy dinners. It’s not always easy to choose healthy foods, but your efforts will be rewarded with a lifetime of good health.