Category: Your Health

Better Living Through Better Nutrition

Ready to take your health into your own hands? Start with what you put on your plate.

Nutrient deficiencies are among the biggest factors in age-related health issues. Eating a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and lean meats gives you a better chance of keeping medical concerns at bay. Proper nutrition might even let you scale back on medication by lowering cholesterol, improving cardiovascular health and boosting brain function – all of which are directly tied to quality of life.

Eat the Rainbow

Fruits and vegetables come in a rainbow of colors; in fact, nutrition experts often say to "Eat the rainbow.” From red apples to green kale, each hue is nature’s color code of nutrients that help your body function at its best. Colorful foods such as leafy greens, red berries and orange sweet potatoes will help you get the vitamins and minerals you need.

When it comes to protein, the American Heart Association recommends eating foods that contain healthy fats and omega-3 fatty acids. Wild-caught salmon, nuts and free-range eggs are all excellent sources. Omega-3s can also help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Likewise, foods rich in antioxidants can promote healthier brain function. Berries, green tea and pinto beans all contain high amounts.

High-fiber foods can help lower cardiovascular risks and keep cholesterol in check as well. In fact, lowering your cholesterol by just 10 percent can reduce the risk of heart disease by up to 30 percent. Fiber-rich foods include oranges, broccoli and legumes like lentils, peas and chickpeas.

Putting it Into Practice

Breaking old eating habits can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Small steps add up over time. Ease into eating healthier with these simple tips:

  1. Make healthy foods easy to access. When you’re hungry, you’re more likely to grab whatever’s convenient. Put fruit in a basket on your kitchen counter, store nuts in the cupboard and load your refrigerator with fresh vegetables.
  2. Go nuts for nuts. Not only are nuts an excellent source of antioxidants and healthy fats, they’re also a great substitute for crackers and potato chips. Enjoy a handful whenever you have a craving for crunch.
  3. Eat more fish. Two servings a week of fatty fish like wild-caught salmon and mackerel can help improve brain and heart health. Not a fan of fish? Try grass-fed beef. A 3.5-ounce serving averages about 80 milligrams of omega-3s – twice as much as regular beef.
  4. Say hello to salad. Salads are an easy way to add vegetables to your diet. Buy prewashed greens to make them quickly and easily. Top them with all-natural chicken breast or hardboiled free-range eggs to add protein.

Continue adding healthy foods into your diet until it becomes second nature. Be patient; it takes time to form new eating habits. But once you have those habits down, you can improve your health and your quality of life one meal at a time.

Essence Healthcare