Healthy Eating 2004 - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

12/31/03

Healthy Eating 2004

Healthy Eating
A healthy diet keeps the body strong and helps fight some kinds of medical problems. Nutrition experts with the USDA have developed the Food Guide Pyramid to help Americans make healthy choices. The most important food choices are located at the base (bottom) of the pyramid: the breads, cereal, rice and pastas. Six to 11 servings are recommended, with an emphasis on whole grains rather than refined or processed grains. On the next level are the fruits and vegetables. The daily recommendation is 3 to 5 servings of vegetables and 2 to 4 servings of fruit. Two groups share the next level: milk and meats. Heath experts advise 2 to 3 servings of low fat or fat-free milk, cheese, yogurt, or other milk products. The meat side includes 2 to 3 servings of lean meat, poultry, fish, or other sources of protein, like dry beans, eggs, and nuts. The top of the pyramid contains foods that should be eaten in small amounts – fats, oils, and sweets.

Choosing Healthy Foods
Researchers have found that many foods contain specific chemicals of compounds that appear to fight disease and maintain health. Here are some food suggestions for a healthy diet in the New Year:

Dark green leafy vegetables. These plant foods (like spinach, collards and kale) contain high levels of lutein and zeaxanthin, types of carotenoids, or pigments that give the foods color. The substances are also found to some degree in yellow vegetables and egg yolks. Research suggests high intake may help protect the eyes and reduce the risk of macular degeneration. Evidence also suggests these carotenoids may lower the risk of chronic disease.

Red foods. Red foods, like tomatoes, watermelon and pink grapefruit, contain a disease-fighting chemical called lycopene. Studies show lycopene may reduce the risk of prostate cancer and heart disease.

Fish. It’s a good source of protein. In addition, certain types of fish, like tuna, salmon and mackerel, contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Years ago, researchers discovered omega-3s helped to protect against heart disease. More recent evidence suggests the substance may also keep brain cells healthy, reduce the risk of rheumatoid arthritis and slow the growth of certain types of cancers.

Whole grains. Whole grains add fiber to the diet. Fiber can help prevent constipation and may protect the body from certain types of cancer. Dietitians also say fiber may help reduce the risk of heart disease and improve control over insulin levels.

Red grapes and berries. Red grapes and red wine contain resveratrol, which may help reduce the risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer. Berries, like blueberries, blackberries and cherries, contain anthocyanin, a substance that may reduce the risk of cancer and urinary tract infections. Some other sources of anthocyanin include kiwi, plums and eggplant.

Low-fat dairy products. The body needs calcium to build and maintain strong bones. Choosing low-fat versions helps provide the benefits of dairy without adding on the extra fat. More recently, research has found calcium tends to reduce fat storage in the body. Thus, a diet high in calcium may help prevent weight gain or improve weight loss.

Chocolate. Believe it or not, chocolate isn’t necessarily a no-no in the diet – as long as it’s eaten in moderation. Cocoa contains flavanoids, a type of antioxidant that is linked to a decreased risk for cardiovascular disease and cancer. Aim for dark chocolate, which contains higher levels of phytochemicals than milk chocolate.



 

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