As we start a new year many of us will be aiming to improve our health for 2017, with eating a better diet one of the best ways to boost well-being.
Here we round up some reminders of simple changes that can help us improve our diets with expert advice and grocery store guidelines from the University of Kentucky.
1. Eat the rainbow
Adding a variety of colourful foods to your plate is one easy way to instantly improve your diet. Replacing some white and brown foods with plenty of natural and colourful fresh fruits and veggies will provide you with a boost of vitamins and fibre, and they’re low in fat. In fact perhaps the easiest way to eat healthy is to make a grocery list that emphasizes naturally colourful foods ― the more vegetables, the better ― and stick to this when you are out shopping.
However be careful to check the labels on colourful but processed foods such as guacamole or pre-prepared salads ― they may contain high amounts of fat, sodium and/or sugar.
2. Careful with dairy
Avoid flavoured yogurts which can contain as much as half of the recommended daily allowance of sugar. Recent research suggests eggs are OK in moderation, but check with your doctor first.
3. Choose lean meats
Lean meats such as chicken and fish are the healthiest choices for meat-eaters. Processed meats such as lunchmeat or hot dogs contain high amounts of sodium and should be avoided.
4. Buy breads with whole grains
While breads and other baked goods can be ok, the hidden sugars and sodium in bread might surprise you. Just two slices of packaged white sandwich bread may provide as much as a quarter of your recommended daily sodium intake.
Instead choose breads made from whole grains (NOT whole wheat), which can lower LDL cholesterol, also known as “bad” cholesterol, and decrease the risk of diabetes by almost a third.
5. Beware processed foods
When supermarket shopping beware of the interior aisles ― this is where you will find the majority of processed food. Almost everything in a plastic wrapper is highly processed and loaded with fat, salt, sugar ― or all three.
If you do spend time shopping here be sure to also spend some time reading the labels and look for healthier substitutes, for example plain canned beans in water ― without added salt and sugar ― are a good choice, as are some nuts and dried fruit.
As well as reading labels also be aware of the serving size per package, for example, canned soups are sometimes advertised as low sodium ― but if the serving size is half a can and you eat a full can of soup, you’ll be getting double the dose of sodium.
6. Stock up on more fruit and veg in the freezer aisles
Frozen veggies without added sauces and fruits without added sugar can be a good purchase to have in the freezer ready as a substitute for fresh.
But try to avoid being tempted by other frozen goods such as pizzas, dinners and snacks, which can be full of with sodium and low in nutrients.