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Tips for a balanced diet

I’m glad that the American Heart Association has publicly endorsed the recommendations I’ve promoted for years regarding a healthy diet.  Here is what the AHA published on its website recently, confirming what I tell patients in my clinical practice and clients in my private practice:

Eat a diet rich in vegetables and fruits.
Most vegetables and fruits are rich in nutrients, low in calories and high in fiber—so diets high in vegetables and fruits meet vitamin, mineral and fiber needs without adding a lot of calories. We’re still learning whether it is the vegetables and fruits or the foods that you avoid by eating vegetables and fruits that reduce cardiovascular risk. Either way, diets rich in vegetables and fruits lower blood pressure and improve other cardiovascular disease risk factors.

Eat a variety of whole (fresh, frozen or canned) vegetables and fruits. Eat more deeply colored vegetables and fruits like spinach, carrots, peaches and berries because they usually contain higher amounts of vitamins and minerals than others such as potatoes and corn. Choose whole fruits over juice most often because whole fruits contain more fiber and may fill you up more than juice.

Choose whole-grain, high fiber foods.
At least half of your grain intake should come from whole-grain foods, which contain fiber and other beneficial nutrients. Dietary fiber can make you feel full, which may help you eat fewer calories. Other types of fiber found in whole-grain foods may reduce your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels and has been associated with a decreased risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Get the right amount of fruits, vegetables and whole-grains.
A person who needs 2,000 calories each day to maintain a healthy body weight could eat 6 to 8 servings of grains (at least half of the servings should be whole-grain foods) and 8 to 10 servings total of vegetables and fruits (about ½ cup counts as a serving). You should increase or decrease how much you eat based on the individual number of total calories you need.

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