Healthy Nutrition 101

by The Cooperative

Have you ever heard the phrase “you are what you eat”? While this phrase isn’t one hundred percent truthful the main concept behind it can be a be of use. When it comes to nutrition a general rule of thumb is the healthier and more nutritious food we consume the more it will benefit our health and wellbeing.

So, why specifically is having a healthy eating pattern important? For children, benefits of healthy eating keeps skin, teeth, and eyes healthy, muscles and bones strong, supports brain development, boosts immunity, and helps the body’s digestive system function properly. For adults, healthy eating shares some of the same benefits as children but also helps lower risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers as well as supports healthy pregnancies and breastfeeding for women. As you can see, the type of food we eat on a daily basis is very important to our quality of life. With all the different types of food sources out there, it can be difficult to know which kinds help our bodies function at its healthiest levels. Listed below are the recommended components of a healthy nutrition pattern that will help you optimize your health.

 1. Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables – Fruits and vegetables are beneficial for many reasons. A diet rich in fruits and vegetable can reduce your risk of chronic diseases and some types of cancers. They are full of essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber, which all are important to keep our bodies functioning properly and to keep our immune system healthy. Fruits and vegetables are also a simple, healthy, and low-calorie snack option which can be beneficial while trying to lose or maintain weight. Try to incorporate eating at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.

2. Prioritize whole grains – Whole grains are the healthiest out of all the complex carbohydrates. They are high in fiber which helps you feel more satisfied, making it easier to maintain a healthy body weight. If you are at the store and are unsure if a grain is whole or not be sure to read the food label as it will say if it is or not on there! Some whole grains to search for are:
  • Brown rice
  • Oatmeal
  • Popcorn
  • Whole wheat bread, pasta, or crackers
3. Healthy sources of protein – Choose healthy protein sources like lean meats, poultry, seafood, beans, peas, and low-fat dairy products. They supply the protein we need for our body yet are low in saturated fat. Protein sources to stay away from would be fatty cuts of beef, pork, and lamb, regular ground beef, sausages, hot dogs, bacon, and lunch meats, which all have an abundance of saturated fat.

4. Use liquid non-tropical plant oils – When we cook, it’s important to use products that are low in saturated fat. A good rule of thumb would be to use oils that are still liquid a room temperature. Some of these would be olive oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, and avocado oil.

5. Limit the amount of processed foods you eat –Processed foods are food products like sweetened breakfast cereals, soft drinks, baking mixes, frozen meals, candies, energy and protein bars, and sweet or savory packaged snacks like chips and cookies. These foods usually contain a lot of sodium, fat, and added sugars. Eating too much of those things can cause the development of chronic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure. It is best to stick with whole foods which are healthy and rich with natural nutrients!

6. Stay away from alcohol – Keeping alcohol consumption in moderation, or avoiding it all together is an important consideration when it comes to healthy nutrition. Excessive drinking can cause problems like high blood pressure, liver disease, and depression. Not to mention, all the extra calories you consume when you drink alcohol can also lead to weight gain and obesity, which creates its own set of health problems. Males should have no more than two drinks per day and females should have no more than one drink per day.

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