Calorie-counting diets are everywhere, but healthy eating isn’t only about how much we eat. It’s important to consider what you choose to eat for optimal whole health.
It’s important to seek out foods that are rich in the vitamins and minerals your body relies on. These foods — especially vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat or fat-free dairy products, eggs, seafood, lean meats and poultry, beans, and nuts — will leave you feeling satisfied, too.
And — bonus for those watching their figures — nutrient-dense foods are naturally low in saturated fat, with little or no added fat, sugars, refined starches or salt.
Unfortunately, many Americans have little time to prepare food. So they turn to processed foods like cereal and pizza.
Though they’re easy to make, these foods carry a hidden cost: They’re low in nutrients and packed with fat and added sugars, the very culprits that contribute to weight gain.
You may already know much of this, but still find it hard to incorporate the most nutritious foods into your daily routine. These eight tips are designed with you in mind:
- If you’re a pasta, bread, rice or tortilla lover, look for the whole-grain version. You can’t rely on a product’s brown color, which can come from dye. Instead, look for the words “whole grain” in the ingredient list.
- Vegetables don’t have to be bland. Many vibrant-colored veggies taste as good as they look, like romaine lettuce, sweet potatoes and asparagus.
- Find new ways to work tasty fruits into your eating habits as snacks, side dishes or desserts. Consider plums, blueberries, grapes, citrus fruits, melons, tomatoes and avocados.
- Nuts and seeds are like nature’s snacks. Instead of chips, try unsalted almonds, cashews, walnuts, pistachios or one of your many other choices.
- Have you tried lentils, chickpeas and beans? They’re great sources of protein.
- Many “lean” cuts of meat have much less fat than the alternatives. Look for the words “round,” “loin” or “leg” in the names of meats to find lower-fat selections. Bake, broil or roast them after removing skin and visible fat.
- Steaming, baking, poaching or broiling are the healthiest ways to cook fish and shellfish.
- When you’re buying dairy products, seek out fat-free (skim) or low-fat (one percent) versions. And try using plain nonfat yogurt in place of sour cream in recipes.
Bonus: It can be hard to know if the nutrition information you find online is trustworthy. For more suggestions on getting nutrient-rich food onto your plate, check out these tips from knowledgeable sources:
- Tips for Choosing a Nutrient-Rich Diet (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics)
- Changing Your Diet: Choosing Nutrient-Rich Foods (American Academy of Family Physicians)
- What Is a Whole Grain? (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics)