Most people know that a healthy diet is vital for maintaining good health. But many aren’t well-versed in creating a balanced meal plan. According to polls, about 47% of Americans say they want to eat healthier but don’t know how to do it. This part is where the problem lies.
So if you’re one of those looking to improve your diet but don’t know where to start, this guide is for you. Below are some food choices that can help you achieve a healthier lifestyle.
Fruits and vegetables
It might seem like a no-brainer, but fruits and vegetables should be a big part of your diet. They’re well-packed with nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which are essential for good health. Not to mention, they’re low in calories and can help you feel full.
However, many people don’t consume enough fruits and vegetables. A study showed that only 9% of Americans meet the recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables. Although the reasons for this vary, one of the main ones is that fresh produce can be expensive. On average, fruits and vegetables cost $2.50 per day, which can add up over time.
So what’s the solution? You don’t have to break the bank to include more fruits and vegetables in your diet. One way is to buy them in season. This way, they’re not only more affordable but also at their peak ripeness, which makes them more flavorful. You can also opt for frozen or canned fruits and vegetables, which are often cheaper than fresh ones.
Either way, what matters is that your body gets the nutrients it needs from these nutrient-rich foods.
Another essential element of a healthy diet is whole grains. These include items like oats, brown rice, and whole-wheat bread. Like fruits and vegetables, they contain vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
The benefits of fiber are numerous. It helps with digestion, lowers cholesterol levels, and keeps you feeling full. It’s no wonder that the USDA recommends that at least half of your grains be whole grains.
But despite this recommendation, many Americans aren’t meeting their daily recommended intake of whole grains. Less than 1% of adults consume the recommended amount.
One way to change this is to start your day with a bowl of whole-grain breakfast cereal. You can also look for bread made with whole wheat flour or swap white rice for brown rice. This way, you’ll get the nutrients your body needs from whole grains without having to make a major diet overhaul.
Did you know that dairy is a good source of nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D? These are essential for maintaining strong bones and teeth. Dairy can also help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease.
So if you want to improve your diet, include dairy in your meals. You can add milk to your cereal or coffee, have yogurt for a snack, or enjoy a glass of milk with dinner. Make sure to choose low-fat or fat-free options to keep your calorie intake in check.
If you want to take it up a notch, a charcuterie board is a great way to sneak some extra dairy into your diet. It is an excellent way to get your recommended dairy intake. These boards are often for sale in local cheese shops, or you can find some at well-stocked grocery stores. Just remember to eat it in moderation, as cheese can be high in saturated fat. Nonetheless, it’s a delicious and nutritious way to add more dairy to your diet.
Another essential nutrient that your body needs is protein. It helps with cell growth, tissue repair, and the production of enzymes and hormones. You can get these from both animal and plant sources.
Animal sources include meat, poultry, fish, and eggs. Plant sources include beans, lentils, nuts, and tofu. If you want to add more protein to your diet, consider incorporating these foods into your meals. For example, you can add beans to a salad or have tofu as a main dish.
You can also get protein from supplements. Bodybuilders often use these to increase their muscle mass. However, you don’t need to be a bodybuilder to benefit from protein supplements. If you’re looking for an easy way to add more protein to your diet, consider using protein powder. You can mix it into smoothies or use it to make healthy pancakes.
A healthy diet includes a variety of nutrient-rich foods. The above are just a few examples. When you incorporate these foods into your meal plans, you’ll be on your way to better overall health. So, start making healthier choices today, and your body will thank you later.