3 Simple Steps to Eating Better

Good health starts by fueling your body with fresh, nutritious foods. with a few small steps now, you can start making healthy changes that will last a lifetime.

A diet rich in whole grains, colorful fruits and vegetables, eggs, beans and other nutritious foods provides myriad health benefits that can reduce your risk of getting chronic diseases as well as enhancing your overall quality of life. Here are three healthful ways to improve your menus so you’ll look and feel better.

Eat Whole Grains. Eating whole grains is an easy way to add healthful nutrients to your diet. These grains are loaded with fiber, vitamins and antioxidants to keep you healthy and lower your risk of disease. Choosing whole grains over the white refined variety means better blood sugar control and reduced risk of diabetes, obesity and heart disease. To increase intake of whole grains, substitute brown rice for white rice, whole wheat pasta for the enriched variety or whole wheat bagels for enriched bagels.

Eat a Rainbow. Produce is the cornerstone of a healthful diet and has been linked with reduced risks for heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, type 2 diabetes and more. Since all fruits and veggies contain different nutrients, choose a colorful mix of produce every day, making sure you eat some from each of the color groups. All forms of fruits and vegetables count, whether they are fresh, frozen, canned, dried or 100% juice. Here are the color groups:

• Blue and Purple: Blueberries, blackberries, purple grapes, plums, purple cabbage, eggplant, purple cauliflower, purple potatoes. These contain brain-boosting antioxidants.

• Orange and Yellow: Carrots, apricots, cantaloupe, mangoes, oranges, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, pineapple, lemons. All of these give you anti-aging, immunity-boosting antioxidants.

• Red: Cherries, cranberries, red grapes, raspberries, strawberries, watermelon and tomatoes. Red produce is rich in cancer-fighting carotenoids such as lycopene.

• Green: Leafy greens, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, zucchini, kiwi, avocados, sugar snap peas, green beans, peas. These are loaded with immunity-boosting nutrients and fiber.

• White, Tan and Brown: Bananas, cauliflower, garlic, onions, mushrooms, brown pears. You’ll be eating phytochemicals that defend against cancer.

Watch Portion Sizes. The amount you eat is as important as what you eat. An extra 100 calories per day becomes about 10 extra pounds over a year, which can lead to obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Try these ways to cut portion sizes:

• Serve meals on 7-inch salad plates instead of standard 9- to 10-inch dinner plates.

• Follow this simple rule for sizing portions: Fill half your plate with fruits and veggies, a quarter of it with grains and the remaining quarter with lean meat.

• Avoid ordering anything that’s been supersized.

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