How to Eat a Healthy Diet

A healthy diet is based on regularly selecting foods and beverages that provide vitamins, minerals, fiber and other healthful components. Eating patterns can be flexible and incorporate cultural traditions as well as current science. A healthy eating pattern can help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight and reduce your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and some cancers. Eat a wide variety of whole foods, especially vegetables and fruit, beans and other legumes, unsalted nuts and seeds, low-fat or fat-free dairy products, and lean meats and fish. Limit added sugars and salt, and drink water or unsweetened 100% vegetable/fruit juice instead of soda or sweetened fruit juice. Choose more foods made with whole grains, such as barley, quinoa, bulger, brown rice, millet and wheat. Choose more seafood, and lean meats and poultry, as well as eggs, soy products and tofu. Limit foods with added sugars, salt and saturated fats. Sodium, or salt, should be limited to less than 2,000 mg per day, while added sugars should be restricted to under 10 grams daily. Saturated fats should be consumed less than 10% of total energy intake, and industrially-produced trans-fats should be avoided. Try to cook at home more often, and make healthier choices when dining out. A restaurant meal can contain most of an adult's daily kilojoule allowance, so it is important to read the food labels and be mindful of portion sizes. Consume foods rich in calcium, vitamin D and potassium, including dark green vegetables, beans, fruits, fortified yogurt and milk, and nuts. Choose sodium-free broth or sauce when making soups, and use herbs and spices to add flavor instead of salt. Use oils rich in monounsaturated fats (olive, canola or peanut) for cooking. Choose salad dressings and spreads made with unsaturated fats, such as olive, canola or peanut oil, instead of solid fats (butter, lard or stick margarine). Limit processed, prepackaged and fast foods that are high in fat, sodium and added sugars. At the grocery store, read the Nutrition Facts label to compare food products. Choose low-sodium canned and frozen foods, add a sprinkle of salt to your food only if it is needed for taste, and use a small handful of unsalted, non-dairy, sodium-free nuts as a snack. A healthy diet begins in early life with breastfeeding, and introducing infants to safe and nutritious complementary foods at 6 months of age. Eating habits established in early childhood can have a lifetime impact on health and may reduce the risk of obesity and noncommunicable diseases later in life.