Americans, now more than ever, recognize the need to change the way they eat. From reducing fat and sugar intake to cutting carbs, many are looking for extra steps they can take in the kitchen to improve their overall health. In fact, a recent survey administered by Opinion Research highlights this trend, revealing that 86 percent of Americans believe there are dietary changes they could be making to improve their well-being. Despite this desire to take the necessary steps, 63 percent indicated they still struggle with ways to eat healthier.When it comes to specific reasons behind the difficulty in changing cooking and eating habits, 70 percent of respondents believed eating healthier will prevent them from enjoying their favorite foods, followed by a belief that eating healthy takes too much time (59 percent) and a fear that choosing healthy foods will change the taste of what they eat (51 percent). "Americans today are really open to advice and solutions on how they can improve their eating habits and live longer, healthier lives. While the majority of us desire improved health and wellness, we all know it's tough to break everyday patterns that require giving up our favorite foods," said Crystal Harrell, Ph.D., Procter & Gamble Health Sciences Institute. Achieving healthy eating is easier than most realize, according to Harrell. Whether picking up food at the grocery store or through the drive-thru, Americans can take simple steps to make their food choices healthier-without sacrificing time, flavor and any other concerns they may have.One easy way to add more health to your diet is to increase fiber intake. While research indicates fiber may help prevent a variety of health conditions, 95 percent of Americans today are not consuming their daily fiber requirements. The National Fiber Council recommends people receive 32 grams or more of fiber per day; however, according to Columbia University, typical consumption of fiber averages 10 grams to 15 grams daily. That's less than half the recommended allowance. Jackie Newgent, a registered dietitian and chef, offers the following tips on easy ways to add more fiber to your diet:• Next time you order pizza, forgo sausage or pepperoni and create a "salad" pizza instead-choose vegetables like artichokes, onions and tomatoes. Try whole wheat crust, too.• If you're more in the mood for Chinese, choose steamed tofu and vegetables over fried meat dishes. Request brown rice in place of white, too.• Always have some cans of beans on hand. Use them in your favorite soup, salad or pasta sauce for a quick fiber fix. • Feel like having fruit juice? Drink water to quench your thirst, then enjoy a whole piece of fruit for extra fiber and chewing satisfaction.• Incorporate a fiber supplement such as Fibersure into your meals. From the makers of Metamucil, it's an all-natural, clear-mixing powder that's flavor-free, nonthickening and quickly dissolves in water or most other liquids and won't change the flavor or texture of your recipe. Whether you add it to your salad dressing, stir-fry or glass of water, each heaping teaspoon instantly adds five grams of fiber.
Looking for healthy, inexpensive and versatile ways to add more protein into your diet? Why not consider dried beans? Dried beans, also known as legumes and pulses, are not only a great source of protein, but are low in fat, packed with vitamins, minerals and both soluble and insoluble fiber. Ask any vegetarian how they get enough protein in their diet and they probably will say I eat a lot of beans. I decided to become a vegetarian as a small child and my parents (who were not vegetarians by the way) worried that I would be lacking in the protein necessary for growth. So, after consulting with my pediatrician and many books on raising vegetarian children, they added beans and lentils to the family table. Not only did I grow, but I am the tallest woman in my family, an enormous 5 feet 5 inches tall. Yea, well, my family is not famous for its tall women ? Protein, Fiber, Vitamins and MineralsOk, ok, back to the beans. Beans are an excellent, non-fat source of protein. Just one cup of beans has about 16 grams, about the same as 3 ounces (audio cassette size) piece of chicken, fish or beef. Because they are a plant, they contain fiber, vitamins and minerals like vegetables. Nutritionists refer to them as crossover foods which means they can be used in a meal as a protein or vegetable item. Take a look at the cuisines of different countries and cultures. You will notice that most cultures include beans, prepared in many different ways. Such a versatile food!Another unique quality of beans is the fiber. Beans contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. Huh? What does this mean?Insoluble fiber is the technical term for what my Mom always referred to as roughage. You know.. the stuff that makes food move through your body more easily. Insoluble fiber has received a lot of publicity in recent years because of the link to a high fiber diet and lowered risk of several types of cancer.Soluble fiber forms a gooey substance in the digestive process that helps with processing of fats, cholesterol and slows the release of carbohydrates into the bloodstream. The American Diabetic Association loves beans!Beans are rich in antioxidants, folic acid, vitamin B-6 and magnesium. Folic Acid and B-6 are known for their ability to lower homocysteine levels in the blood. Elevated blood levels of homocysteine in the blood are associated with risk for heart attack, stroke and peripheral vascular disease. 20-40 percent of patients with heart disease have elevated homocysteine levels.So, whats the downside of this wonderful food? If you are not used to a high fiber diet.flatulence. As with the introduction of any high fiber food, go easy with the amounts the first few days until your body adjusts. Then any uncomfortable feeling will probably pass.How to Cook You can use canned beans which are nutritionally similar to dried ones. Its a good idea to rinse the beans before eating them to remove the salt and preservatives used in canning.I tend to try and avoid processed foods where possible so I buy dried beans and cook them following the instructions on the package. Generally, beans are not complicated to cook, but require time. Most beans, except lentils, require an overnight soak in water to soften them up. Then they can be simmered until soft on the stove or in a slow cooker. Generally, the bigger the bean, the longer they take to cook. One thing to note: after soaking, rinse the beans and cook them in new water. This will help prevent flatulence!Beans can be frozen after cooking and used in sauces, soups, salads or anywhere your imagination takes you. Where I live, red bean ice cream is popular. Delicious!
Many say today's consumer is overwhelmed with information on whole and enriched grains. With all the conflicting information, it can be difficult to understand what to eat to maintain a healthful and balanced diet. First, it is important to understand grains. Grains come from the seed-heads of grasses, which are then milled or processed into food such as bread, cereals, pasta and tortillas. Whole grains are composed of an entire kernel-the bran, germ and endosperm. The bran forms the outer layer of the seed and is a rich source of niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, zinc and most of the seed's fiber. The germ is the part from which a new plant sprouts and is a concentrated source of niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin E, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, zinc and contains protein and some fat. The endosperm, which is about 80 percent of the kernel, makes up the rest of the seed and contains most of the grain's protein and carbohydrates.Whole grains are very nutritious-they are a good source of fiber and other important nutrients such as selenium, potassium and magnesium. A high-fiber diet has been shown to help lower your risk of type II diabetes, obesity, heart disease, some cancers and other disorders such as hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome and the development of diverticular disease. Whole grain sources include barley, brown rice, bulgur, cracked wheat, millet, oatmeal, popcorn, whole corn, whole rye and whole wheat and flours from these components. Other pseudo-grains, such as buckwheat, amaranth, quinoa and wild rice, are often accepted as whole grains.White flour is made from just the endosperm; however, 95 percent of all white flour in the U.S. is enriched, meaning the three major B vitamins, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and iron are added back in the same proportion as is found in the whole kernel. Folic acid is added in twice the amount of that found in whole grains. Enriched grains are the primary source of folic acid in Americans' diets and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have been credited with lowering neural tube birth defects by 34 percent in Whites and non-Hispanics and 36 percent in Hispanics since folic acid fortification of enriched grains became mandatory in 1998. Enriched grains also account for a major source of iron in the diets of most Americans. Fortification of folic acid has also been shown to reduce the incidence of strokes in the U.S. and Canada. All types of whole and enriched grain products are good for you-and are one of the healthiest and most convenient foods available. Mistakenly thought of as fattening, grain products should fit into a healthy-eating plan-especially as evidenced by the USDA's new MyPyramid. The recently released Dietary Guidelines recommend at least half of all grain products consumed be whole grain products and the remaining from other grain sources, including enriched. Trends such as low carbohydrate diets may come and go, but bread is here to stay. When choosing grain products, consider the many types available and vary them in your diet. Grains can increase your protein intake, add fiber to your diet and provide the appropriate carbohydrates for your muscles. Eating a variety of grains not only ensures you get more nutrients, it can make meals and snacks more delicious and delightful.
A diet, strictly speaking, refers to a certain collection of food that a person chooses to consume. In this sense, we can consider everyone to be on a diet. But the accepted connotation of the term diet today, is a collection of food that is meant to help a person lose weight. This diet is closely linked to the amount of calories that a person deposits in his body. The basic idea is this: if a person eats less calories than his body uses, he will become thinner; and if the body eats more calories than what his body manages to use, he will become fat.Growing fat is so un-cool that many adults and kids would want to diet. They worry about the measurements of certain body parts but they forget about what genetics have given them. You see, not everyone has a perfect body. In fact, many artists (who study the human figure) tend to believe that the majority of the people in this world have imperfect bodies. Some are born with large frames or big bones and some are born with smaller frames. This is why a friend who is not really fat may look bigger than others simply because of his bone structure.Adults may go on diet, but kids should avoid weight loss diets. The sole reason is that kids are still growing and developing. Certain stages of your growth will make you grow fat and this is normal. What kids need are a variety of foods that will supply all the needed vitamins, minerals, proteins, and carbohydrates. Skipping meals and eating a lettuce-only meals would mean that you are supplying less nutrients to your body and you may get sick or your growth would be stunted. You may even develop serious conditions such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. Anorexic people cannot tolerate any food. Each time they put food in their stomach, the body reacts and vomits the food. Anorexic people are dangerously thin because they are already starving. Bulimic people, on the other hand, deliberately throw up the food they have eaten.If youre a kid and think that you are fat, just become more active. Join physical sports. Jog or run, instead of walking towards home or to school. What you are trying to do is to burn more calories. Okay, some kids may appear too fat that it is no longer healthy. But drastic dieting wont help. What parents need to do is to consult a doctor. The doctor can give the proper advise on how the gain weight at a slower pace, without risking the kids health.Kids should forget about "weight loss" diets. They should focus on becoming healthier and stronger.
A mineral is a kind of micronutrient that is essential for good health. All minerals are inorganic substances absorbed from the earth by plants and cannot be produced by plants or animals.The body utilizes over eighty of these chemicals. They are vital for the growth and production of bones, nails, hair, teeth, nerves, blood, vitamins, hormones and enzymes. In addition, they contribute to the healthy functioning of blood circulation, fluid regulation, nerve transmission, cellular integrity, muscle contraction and energy production.Because the earths soil is now so nutrient depleted, even people who eat the healthiest foods often do not consume the required levels of minerals. This results in many kinds of illnesses, including energy loss, premature aging and degenerative diseases such as heart problems, bone disease and cancer.Consequently, many people choose to take a supplement, which can provide some of the missing minerals. The risk of mineral deficiency can also be minimized through the consumption of a balanced diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables. Good sources of minerals other than fruits and vegetables include meats, nuts, beans and dairy products.The following can serve as a rough guide for ensuring the adequate consumption of some of the most important minerals:Calcium (Ca): This mineral is mainly found in dairy products, cereals, fruits and vegetables. Tinned fish such as sardines are excellent sources of Ca but are not eaten enough by most people. A sufficient intake of calcium may help to prevent osteoporosis.Chromium (Cr): The richest dietary sources of Cr are spices such as black pepper and brewers yeast, raisins, mushrooms, prunes, nuts, beer, red wine and asparagus.Copper (Cu): Foods high in Cu include kidney, liver, kidney, shellfish, nuts and wholegrain cereals.Iodine: The condition of the soil contributes greatly to the concentration of iodine found in plants and animals across various regions of the world. Iron: Meat provides one of the richest sources of iron. Vegetables and cereals also provide iron, but in low concentrations. A good iron intake is particularly important for menstruating women.Magnesium (Mg): Mg is widely distributed in plant and animal foods, especially legumes, nuts, green vegetables, chocolate and cereals.Manganese (Mn): Relatively high concentrations of Mn have been found in tea, brown bread, nuts, ginger and cereals. The concentration of Mn in crops depends largely on soil quality.Selenium (Se): Cereals, seafood and meat products are the best sources of Se and are the main contributors to the daily Se intake. Most vegetables and fruits are relatively low in this mineral.Zinc (Zn): The Zn content of foods varies from exceptionally high levels in oysters, to negligible in refined foods or those with a high fat content. The best animal source of Zn is found in lean red meat, which has at least twice that of chicken. Cereals and wholegrain foods also provide some zinc.Without an adequate intake of minerals, the body ceases to function. Give your body the best possible chance to operate at an optimal level of health by making sure you consume plenty. Thankfully, the rainforest comes up trumps again. It seems that some rainforest fruits, like the acai berry, are packed full of minerals and are probably some of the best natural ways for people to boost their mineral intake. No wonder rainforest fruits like the acai are hailed as super foods!