Healthy Eating

A good diet comprises many healthy foods. These foods provide you with carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals needed for good health.

Much of what you eat should be made up of carbohydrates found in bread, cereal, rice, pasta, fruits, vegetables and milk. They should make up 50 percent to 60 percent of your calories. Your brain and muscles need them to work well.

Protein should make up 10 percent to 15 percent of your daily calories. Protein is found in meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk and milk products, such as yogurt and cheese. Every cell in your body has some protein, which helps form skin and bones. It also helps in the healing of sores and helps your body fight infection.

Fat is very high in calories with twice as many calories as carbohydrates and protein. The average American eats about 40 percent to 50 percent of their calories in the form of fat, but it’s better to limit this to 30 percent or less. Fats help vitamins work and help in making hormones, which control a lot of how the body works. You don’t need to add fat to your diet to be healthy because you get a lot from animal products, oils and some processed foods. Many people should eat fewer fats because this can lead to gaining unneeded weight.

Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat proteins have a lot of vitamins and minerals and help change carbohydrates, proteins and fats into nutrients we can use. These nutrients help create bone, blood, enzymes and hormones and help fight infection and disease. The best way to get what we need is to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, milk and lean meats. A vitamin-mineral pill cannot replace many of the nutrients found in healthy foods.

Many news stories have been written about fiber in diets. Fiber, also called roughage or bulk, is found in plants. Because your body cannot break down fiber, it passes through your digestive tract (bowel), absorbing fluids and adding bulk to the foods your body has broken down. By adding weight and volume, it moves digested foods through the bowel faster and with less work. Most experts say we should eat 25 to 35 grams of fiber a day. Because fiber pulls fluid from your body to the digestive tract, it’s important that you drink a lot of fluids. Foods high in fiber include fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals, nuts and seeds. To reach the goal of 25 to 35 grams of fiber, you must eat at least five helpings of fruits and vegetables and a helping of whole wheat bread, cereal or pasta each day.