This pamphlet provides a thorough look at the basics of nutrition, ensuring that adults will understand what they can do to improve their health.
It begins by noting that most people do not pay enough attention to what they eat as there may be nothing to indicate that their diet isn’t balanced. Health problems that arise later in life are frequently due to the body not getting what it needed to ensure a long and healthy life. Poor nutritional habits can be so ingrained that some no longer pay attention to them.
The best course of action is to combine a balanced diet with a good exercise routine. This pairing allows the body to build muscle mass and burn fat. It also wards off obesity, diabetes, and other serious health issues that can affect lifespan.
Modern society has made it very easy to eat poorly. Convenient food options are often high in calories, fat, and sodium. While improving eating habits takes time and dedication, the commitment to a healthier lifestyle is well worth it. Once a person becomes accustomed to eating healthy foods, they start to lose their desire to indulge in junk food.
The body needs a good mix of a variety of nutrients found in the different food groups.
Within the food groups, some choices are better than others. For protein, lean meats, seafood, and beans are the best options. Vegetables should be eaten raw or minimally cooked to preserve their nutritional value. And whole grains are the grain of choice.
Many adults are deficient in the following nutrients: fiber, calcium, and vitamins and minerals. Fiber is essential for proper digestion and cholesterol control. It’s found in whole grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits. Calcium helps to maintain strong and healthy bones. Vitamins and minerals help all of the body’s systems, from skin and hair to eyesight and brain functioning. Raw fruit and vegetables are wonderful sources of vitamins and minerals.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are several items that adults often get too much of in their daily diet. Fats, cholesterol, and sodium can be detrimental to health when consumed in excess. Fats, especially saturated and trans fats, lead to obesity. Cholesterol impacts arteries and the heart. Too much sodium increases blood pressure. Food labels can provide valuable insight as to which foods have acceptable levels of each of these items.
Good eating habits can be difficult to establish, particularly if a person is used to salty, sugary, or fatty foods. But once a person becomes adjusted to healthy foods, their cravings for unhealthy foods diminish. The same goes for adding exercise to a daily routine. It may be hard to start, but the longer it continues, the more enjoyable it becomes.
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This brochure is also available in Spanish.
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To learn more about proper nutrition at ChooseMyPlate.gov.