Healthy Eating 2017-02-23T13:58:01+00:00

Healthy Eating

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be a diet, or suffer taste.Everyone can benefit from eating healthy—from controlling your weight to preventing chronic diseases, like heart disease and cancer. Eating healthy at a young age sets kids on the path to a healthy life, but remember, it’s never too late to get started.

Small changes can make a big difference to your health

Many Americans consume less than ideal amounts of certain nutrients needed for a healthy diet. To put you on the path to improving your health through nutrition, the Guidelines recommend including the following components when developing your healthy eating pattern:

  • A variety of vegetables: dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy and other vegetables.
  • Fruits, especially whole fruit.
  • Grains, at least half of which are whole grain.
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages.
  • A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), soy products, and nuts and seeds.
  • Oils, including those from plants: canola, corn, olive, peanut, safflower, soybean, and sunflower. Oils also are naturally present in nuts, seeds, seafood, olives, and avocados.
More than two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, often as a result of unhealthy diets and a sedentary lifestyle. To improve our nation’s health, the Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting consumption of the following:

  • Salt. Adults and children ages 14 years and over should limit sodium to less than 2,300 mg per day, and children younger than 14 years should consume even less. Use the Nutrition Facts label to check for sodium, especially in processed foods like pizza, pasta dishes, sauces, and soups.
  • Saturated and trans fats. Less than 10% of your daily calories should come from saturated fats. Foods that are high in saturated fat include butter, whole milk, meats that are not labeled as lean, and tropical oils such as coconut and palm oil. Saturated fats should be replaced with unsaturated fats, such as canola or olive oil.
  • Added sugars. Less than 10% of your daily calories should come from added sugars. ChooseMyPlate.gov provides more information about added sugars, which are sugars and syrups that are added to foods or beverages when they are processed or prepared. This does not include naturally occurring sugars such as those consumed as part of milk and fruits.
Regular physical activity goes hand-in-hand with a healthy diet when you are trying to improve your health. HHS’ Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week for adults. Muscle-strengthening activities that involve all major muscle groups should be performed on two or more days each week by adults. Children and adolescents 6 to 17 years old should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day. Youth should include aerobic, muscle-strengthening, and bone-strengthening activities.
All of us, whether at home, school, in the workplace, in your community, and in food retail outlets, need to encourage easy, accessible, and affordable ways to support healthy choices.

  • At home, you and your family can try out small changes to find what works for you like adding more veggies to favorite dishes, planning meals and cooking at home, and incorporating physical activity into time with family or friends.
  • Schools can improve the selection of healthy food choices in cafeterias and vending machines, provide nutrition education programs and school gardens, increase school-based physical activity, and encourage parents and caregivers to promote healthy changes at home.
  • Workplaces can encourage walking or activity breaks; offer healthy food options in the cafeteria, vending machines, and at staff meetings or functions; and provide health and wellness programs and nutrition counseling.
  • Communities can increase access to affordable, healthy food choices through community gardens, farmers’ markets, shelters, and food banks and create walkable communities by maintaining safe public spaces.
  • Food retail outlets can inform consumers about making healthy changes and provide healthy food choices.
Choose red, orange, and dark-green vegetables like tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and broccoli, along with other vegetables for your meals. Add fruit to meals as part of main or side dishes or as dessert. The more colorful you make your plate, the more likely you are to get the vitamins, minerals, and fiber your body needs to be healthy.
An easy way to eat more whole grains is to switch from a refined-grain food to a whole-grain food. For example, eat whole-wheat bread instead of white bread. Read the ingredients list and choose products that list a whole-grain ingredients first. Look for things like: “whole wheat,” “brown rice,” “bulgur,” “buckwheat,” “oatmeal,” “rolled oats,” quinoa,” or “wild rice.”
Both have the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk, but fewer calories and less saturated fat.
Meat, poultry, seafood, dry beans or peas, eggs, nuts, and seeds are considered part of the protein foods group. Select leaner cuts of ground beef (where the label says 90% lean or higher), turkey breast, or chicken breast.
Use the Nutrition Facts label to choose lower sodium versions of foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals. Select canned foods labeled “low sodium,” “reduced sodium,” or “no salt added.”
Cut calories by drinking water or unsweetened beverages. Soda, energy drinks, and sports drinks are a major source of added sugar and calories in American diets. Try adding a slice of lemon, lime, or watermelon or a splash of 100% juice to your glass of water if you want some flavor.
Seafood includes fish (such as salmon, tuna, and trout) and shellfish (such as crab, mussels, and oysters). Seafood has protein, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids (heart-healthy fat). Adults should try to eat at least eight ounces a week of a variety of seafood. Children can eat smaller amounts of seafood, too.
Eat fewer foods that contain solid fats. The major sources for Americans are cakes, cookies, and other desserts (often made with butter, margarine, or shortening); pizza; processed and fatty meats (e.g., sausages, hot dogs, bacon, ribs); and ice cream.

Some of Our Recent Articles

What’s So Special About Green Tea?

Green Tea Is Nothing New. Why the Resurgence? There is a growing number of products on store shelves touting they contain green tea, from shampoos to mouthwash to fro-yo. It's like the new bacon, but

I Want to Garden… Now What?

The Newbie Guide to Edible Gardening: Part 1 - I Want to Garden… Now What? Although it’s only February , the weather has been uncharacteristically warm here and there. And as I’ve walked around outside,

Load More Posts