The key to better health is learning the difference between healthy and unhealthy nutrients. The choices we make greatly affect our health. A few simple healthy and nutritious changes in our diet can have profound and positive effects on our health, well-being, energy levels and lifespan. For example . . .
o Healthy proteins provide the amino acids our bodies need to build and repair lean body mass (like muscle, skin, hair and nails) and are low in saturated fat, cholesterol and chemicals. Good sources include wild salmon, beans, legumes, soy products (tofu, tempeh, TVP), seeds (sunflower, pumpkin), nuts (walnuts, almonds, peanuts), and peanut butter.
o Unhealthy proteins are loaded with saturated fat, cholesterol, hormones or antibiotics (like beef, lamb, beacon and sausage). While they provide your body with the amino acids it needs, they also clog arteries and compromise your immune system.
o Healthy fats are unsaturated fats (mono and poly), omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Good sources of these fats include extra virgin olive oil, canola oil, ground flaxseed, and walnuts. They help your body absorb fat-soluble antioxidant micronutrients like vitamins A, E, D, and K, and lycopene.
o Unhealthy fats are saturated fats and trans fats (trans fats) such as butter and margarine. These fats contribute to heart disease, stroke, high cholesterol and triglycerides, high blood pressure and obesity.
o Healthy carbohydrates are high in fiber and are considered complex carbohydrates. Good sources include oatmeal, brown rice, whole wheat, broccoli, squash, green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes, beans, and whole fruits. These help lower cholesterol, aid digestion, regulate blood sugar and insulin levels, and reduce calorie intake.
o Unhealthy carbohydrates are high in sugar and are called simple carbohydrates, such as candy, white bread, sodas, ice cream, cakes and cookies. These increase blood sugar and insulin levels and increase calorie intake (they are considered empty calories).
Eating nutrient-dense foods high in antioxidants, phytochemicals, and fiber helps the body function optimally, promotes general well-being, and improves digestion. These nutrients also help fight and prevent heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, boost the immune system, slow the aging process, boost energy, and improve cognitive performance.
Additionally, our appetites decline as we age, making it even more important to choose foods wisely. When every little bit counts, choosing foods with the highest nutritional profile is more important than ever.
An easy way to guide your nutritional choices is to look for foods that are light in color, as they typically contain more beneficial vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. For example, red and pink grapefruit contain the heart-healthy cancer-fighting antioxidant phytochemical called lycopene, while white grapefruit does not. Here are seven more easy ways to start eating healthier.
1. Switch from iceberg lettuce to romaine lettuce. Romaine lettuce has more vitamins and minerals like vitamins A and C, thiamine, riboflavin, calcium and potassium. It also has more fiber than iceberg lettuce.
2. Eat brown rice instead of white rice. Brown rice naturally has more fiber and riboflavin and less sugar than white rice. It is digested more slowly and is more filling.
3. Switch from white bread to whole wheat or whole wheat bread. Whole grain and whole grain breads have more fiber, iron and potassium. Slice for slice, they’re more filling and filling than white bread.
4. Drink iced teas (black, green, and herbal) instead of sodas. Black, green, and herbal teas provide antioxidants and phytochemicals that boost your health. Unlike sodas, you can control the sugar content when brewing your own iced teas.
5. Choose whole grain or whole grain cereals with bran instead of pan-coated cereals. Whole grains and whole grains with bran naturally contain more protein, fiber, calcium, iron, vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin than sugar frosted grains. Aside from having less sugar, they metabolize more slowly and are more filling. So you have more energy during the day and don’t get hungry right away.
6. Switch from cow’s milk to fortified soy milk. Soy milk contains no cholesterol or hormones and is extremely low in saturated fat. It also provides isoflavones and other beneficial phytochemicals that promote good health. Fortified soy milk also contains easily absorbable calcium, vitamins D and B6, and some even add extra antioxidants (like vitamins A, C, and E), folic acid, and omega-3.
7. Frozen fruit sorbet for dessert instead of ice cream. Frozen fruit sorbet is fat and cholesterol free and contains more fiber. It’s also loaded with antioxidant vitamins A and C and contains beneficial phytochemicals.
To get you started, try Monique N. Gilbert’s deliciously nutritious homemade sorbet recipe. It is cholesterol-free and rich in antioxidants, phytochemicals and fiber.
Strawberry Orange Sorbet
1-1/2 cups frozen strawberries
1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup fortified soy milk
2 tablespoons canned pumpkin
1 tablespoon of honey
Blend in a food processor or blender until smooth and creamy, 1-2 minutes. Place in the freezer until ready to serve.
Makes about 2 servings
Copyright © Monique N Gilbert. All rights reserved.
Thanks to Monique N. Gilbert