Healthy eating fuels your body, develops strong bones and muscles, wards off life-threatening diseases, helps you think more clearly, increases energy levels, eases joint pain by decreasing inflammation and can ultimately help you live a longer life. By starting slowly and progressively making healthy eating a habit, you can create change that lasts.
Veggies and Fruits
- Eat at least nine servings of vegetables a day, which is about 4-1/2 cups. In particular, dietitians recommend dark leafy greens as well as veggies that are a rich red, yellow or orange.
- Keep fruit out where you can see it, such as in a bowl or basket on your kitchen counter. You'll be more likely to grab a banana or orange for a snack.
- Not all serving sizes of fruit and veggies are equal. For example, to get the equivalent of 1 cup's worth of veggies when eating leafy greens, you actually need 2 cups' worth. Also, 1/2 cup of dried fruit is equal to one cup of fresh fruit.
Meat, Fish, Poultry and Eggs
- Meat, fish, poultry and eggs all contain protein and iron, which are both needed for building strong muscles. Strong muscles are a must no matter what your age. In fact, if you stand up and take just one step, you will use 54 muscles. However, if you prefer a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, you can also get protein through peanut butter, dried beans, peas and nuts.
- The iron found in meat helps carry oxygen to muscles, prevents infections and fights off anemia, which decreases energy.
- Tweens and teens need 1,300mg of calcium daily and they can get 900mg of that by drinking 3 cups of low-fat or fat-free milk.
- Besides building strong bones throughout your body, the calcium in dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt, also keep your teeth, gums, and jawbones healthy and strong.
- Even those who are lactose intolerant (people who have difficulty digesting dairy products) can sometimes comfortably digest a cup of milk if they drink it along with a regular meal.
- The fiber found in whole grains can protect against heart disease and lower cholesterol levels. Fiber also helps fill you up, which can help you maintain or lose weight.
- Whole grains (as opposed to the refined or enriched grains found in foods like white bread) also provide minerals such as magnesium and selenium. Magnesium builds up bone strength and helps release energy out of your muscles. Selenium helps you develop a healthy immune system.
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