Healthy Diet – What You Need to Know

A healthy diet focuses on nutrient-dense foods and is low in added sugars, sodium (salt) and saturated and trans fats. It also emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, protein foods and nuts and seeds. It is high in fiber, especially from whole foods like beans and berries, and contains plenty of water.

A meal plan is the best way to manage your dietary goals. It can help you prepare meals for the week and save time by cooking in large batches. It can also help you stay on budget by allowing you to buy more perishable items like fresh produce when it is in season.

Cooking at home gives you more control over the ingredients in your food and helps you avoid overeating, which can lead to weight gain and a range of health problems including heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Choose lean meats, fish and poultry to add protein to your meals. Replace some of the fats in your diet with unsaturated fats, such as those found in olive, canola and safflower oils or in avocados and nuts. Unsaturated fats can help lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk for heart disease.

Incorporate fiber-rich whole foods into your meals by eating a variety of fruits, veggies and legumes. Aim for 5 servings of vegetables and fruit each day. A cup of diced vegetables or a small bowl of cut-up fruit counts as one serving. Dried, canned and frozen fruit and veggie options are all good choices as long as they don’t contain added salt or sugar.

Try to limit red and processed meats, and choose healthier proteins like poultry, eggs, fish or beans. Use herbs and spices to add flavor to your food, instead of salt, which can raise your blood pressure.

A healthy diet is important for everyone, but it’s particularly important for people with chronic diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity. Following a healthy diet may also help people who are taking medication or recovering from surgery.

Aim to cook at home more often, and keep ready-to-eat fruits and veggies on hand so your family has a healthy choice when hunger strikes. Kids can help in the kitchen and will be more likely to eat the food they’ve prepared themselves. Make mealtime a family affair, without distractions like phones or tablets. This helps promote healthy eating habits and creates fond memories.