Clean Up your Diet – Cut the trash, focus on the good stuff

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With the hustle and bustle of summer it may be a good time to set one goal to improve your diet. Always focus on what foods you CAN eat not what food you CANNOT eat.  Limit all the junk and take a look below at some of the things that you may not have thought about.  You may want set a goal and find one food group to improve in.

WHOLE GRAINS

What types of whole grains are in your diet? Many items may say whole wheat, wheat or multi-grain on the front of the package but that does not necessarily mean they have a higher nutritional value – don’t be fooled. Turn the package over and look at the ingredients. Make sure either the first or second ingredient is WHOLE wheat flour. The word whole is telling you the grain is made with all three parts of the grain including the fiber-rich bran, endosperm (some B vitamins) and the germ, which is also known as the nutrient-power-house. If you see the word enriched as the first ingredient then you are losing the fiber-rich bran and the germ.

Let’s take it a step further. How about trying a new grain? Have you ever tried barley, wheat berries, bulgur or even quinoa (keen-wah)? These grains have wonderful nutritional value including a great source of fiber along with iron, B vitamins and minerals.

DIFFERENT FRUIT OR VEGGIE

We all know fruits and veggies are packed full of good nutrients for you, but many of us seem to come up short in our serving sizes each day. Here is a challenge for you: try a new fruit or vegetable this week. Go to the grocery store or farmer’s market and find an item that you have never tried before. Some of my favorites include jicama (hē-ka-ma), broccoli slaw, spaghetti squash, pummelos, or sweet canary melon.

sweet canary melon

Sweet canary melon

 

OMEGA-3’s

Let’s not forget about those heart healthy omega-3 fats. These essential fatty acids are very important in the diet for both the young and old. Omega-3 fats can help reduce blood platelets from “clumping” together and sticking to the artery walls and help keep arteries flexible. There has also been research showing that omega-3 fats may help lower triglycerides. The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings of fish each week and getting the omega-3 fatty acids from fish, not from fish oil capsules. For children, omega-3 fats from fish are really brain food! More and more studies are showing the effect omega-3 fats have on enhancing brain development
Omega-3 fats can be found in fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, bluefish, herring, lake trout and sardines. Some of my favorites are salmon and mahi mahi burgers from Omega Foods® plus our new Hy-Vee frozen marinated teriyaki salmon and lemon herbed tilapia – so delicious!

You can also get omega-3 fats from a variety of plant sources including canola oil, walnuts, walnut oil, flax seed, Omega eggs, wheat germ and soy foods. However, the body has to convert the omega-3 fat in plant foods first so you get fewer omega-3 fats from plant foods than you do from fish, but they are still great to get in your diet. My new favorite plant source of omega-3 fats are chia seeds. Chia seeds are packed with omega-3 fatty acids plus fiber, iron, calcium and many vitamins. Just one-half ounce provides six grams of fiber! That is equivalent to three bowls of instant oatmeal or six tomatoes! Wow! Chia seeds do not need to be ground in order to absorb their benefits – nor do they need to be refrigerated. Just sprinkle them on a salad or in some yogurt.

 

SLIMMING SIPPERS

Along with these nutrient-packed foods, beverages may be overlooked in our diet. Do you get at least 64 ounces of water each day? For many people it may be difficult to drink all this water and will overcompensate on soda, juice, coffee and other flavored beverages. According to studies, calories from liquids such as soft drinks, sports beverages or sweetened tea don’t seem to register as food.

Be aware of portion size of beverages. A king-sized soft drink can add up to 500 calories without even blinking an eye. Besides adding extra sugar and calories, soft drinks and high amounts of caffeine have been found to affect the body’s use of calcium, which may lead to weak bones.
Water is the foundation of any weight loss plan. It is fat-free, calorie-free and carbohydrate-free. It also acts as a natural appetite suppressant, increases our body’s fat burning ability and helps our body function at its optimal level. Water affects many parts of our body including:

· •Regulating body temperature

· •Lubricating our joints

· •Ensuring proper digestion

· •Maintaining healthy skin

· •Transporting nutrients

· •Removing waste from our body

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