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7 Ways to Improve Your American Diet and Nutrition

Poor diets in America can contribute to numerous chronic illnesses and place undue strain on healthcare systems, but with simple changes to eating habits can improve quality food while lowering disease risks.

Doctors, chefs and farmers are working on solutions that make healthy lifestyle choices simpler for all of us. Here are seven great ideas they have in mind to do just that.

1. Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

It shouldn’t be surprising that the healthiest states in the US consume a lot of fruits and vegetables in their everyday diet. Fruits and vegetables contain essential vitamins A, C and E; potassium; folic acid and phytochemicals that provide essential nutrition. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help lower cancer risks, decrease blood pressure, promote eye health and even help stave off heart disease.

Vegetables and whole fruits (not juice) provide ample sources of dietary fiber, which can help manage blood sugar spikes while curbing hunger between meals. Plus, fruit and veggies have low calories and fat counts which will assist with weight control.

Though American nutrition may appear dire, recent studies indicate that both children and adults have made some strides forward, cutting back on sodium intake and adding whole grains, fish, nuts, and beans into their diet. But more needs to be done and poverty can prevent accessing nutritious food sources.

2. Eat More Whole Grains

Many diets emphasize restricting or eliminating carbohydrates altogether, yet whole grains remain an integral component of a nutritious diet. Whole grains provide essential fiber, B vitamins and antioxidants – so whether your choice is brown rice, farro, quinoa or even popcorn (yes it counts!), it’s essential that three servings of whole grains per day are consumed.

Eating more whole grains can help manage cholesterol, blood pressure and weight. They’re an excellent source of dietary fiber which supports heart health while controlling hunger. Furthermore, selecting folate-rich whole grain products prior to and during gestation helps prevent neural tube defects; Dr. Mozaffarian reports research funding from both National Institutes of Health and Gates Foundation as well as personal fees from America’s Test Kitchen, Barilla and Cleveland Clinic Foundation as well as chapter royalties from UpToDate.

3. Eat Less Sodium

Sodium (or salt) is a mineral naturally present in some foods, yet much of our daily sodium consumption comes from processed and packaged food sources – particularly soups, sauces and condiments.

At the grocery store, use the Nutrition Facts label to locate lower sodium options. Opt for unprocessed items like whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean meats, low-sodium canned food options and unsalted nuts or seeds for best results.

As much as possible, prepare meals at home to reduce sodium intake from restaurant meals, which tend to be high. When dining out, research menu options online for low-sodium options and request that all sauces and condiments be provided separately so you can manage how much salt you ingest. Consider replacing salt with herbs and spices instead, which can also help lower blood pressure. Additionally, increasing potassium-rich food can also help.

4. Eat More Protein

Protein is one of the three macronutrients essential to providing our bodies with energy, and according to Dietary Guidelines 10-35% of total calories should come from it.

Protein is essential to the body for building and repairing tissue, creating enzymes, hormones, and other substances, and fueling activity. Our bodies rely on different sources for protein such as meat, fish, dairy products, eggs, legumes, nuts, and seeds for energy.

Protein intake can help us remain healthy and reduce our risk for heart disease, high blood cholesterol levels, cancer and other serious medical conditions. A well-rounded high-protein diet includes lean meats, vegetables and berries with lots of essential nutrients, whole grains with low fat dairy as well as nuts and seeds – this food and beverage choice should meet all your protein requirements while simultaneously meeting sodium, added sugars and saturated fat limits – the Noom app is an excellent way to keep track of this.

5. Eat More Healthy Fats

With fast food restaurants on every corner and processed foods dominating grocery store shelves, eating well may seem impossible. Yet by making even a few small changes to your eating habits, you could significantly improve the quality of your diet and decrease risk factors for chronic diseases.

Even though fat has an unfavorable image, it’s important to recognize that not all types of fats are created equally. When selecting unsaturated fats such as those found in vegetable oils, avocados, and nuts, saturated fats should be replaced by unsaturated varieties for optimal health.

However, it is also essential to remember that eating too many calories – even healthy fats – can contribute to weight gain. Make sure to read nutrition labels on food packages and select those which contain less caloric intake.

6. Limit Added Sugars

Added sugars are a major contributor to many health problems, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. They are often found in sugary drinks, processed snacks, and desserts. By reducing the intake of added sugars, individuals can improve their overall health and well-being.

To limit added sugars, it is important to read food labels and choose products with lower sugar content. Opt for natural sweeteners like fruits or use small amounts of honey or maple syrup as alternatives. Being mindful of portion sizes and gradually reducing the amount of sugar added to beverages and recipes can also make a significant difference.

7. Stay Hydrated with Water

Water is vital for maintaining good health and proper bodily functions. It is calorie-free, sugar-free, and essential for hydration. By prioritizing water as the main beverage choice, individuals can avoid the added sugars and calories often found in sugary drinks.

Carrying a reusable water bottle and keeping it accessible throughout the day can serve as a reminder to stay hydrated. Infusing water with fresh fruits or herbs can add flavor without the need for added sugars. Additionally, substituting sugary beverages with sparkling water or unsweetened tea can be a healthier alternative.

By incorporating these seven ideas into everyday life, individuals can make positive changes to their eating habits, improve their overall nutrition, and reduce the risks associated with poor diets. Making small, sustainable changes over time can lead to significant improvements in New Jersey healthy living and well-being.