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The Impact Of Nutrition On Your Health

Unhealthy eating habits have contributed to the obesity epidemic in the United States: about one-third of U.S. adults (33.8%) are obese and approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2—19 years are obese.1 Even for people at a healthy weight, a poor diet is associated with major health risks that can cause illness and even death. These include heart disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and certain types of cancer. By making smart food choices, you can help protect yourself from these health problems.

Healthy Nutritional Tips

Follow these tips to get on the path to a healthy lifestyle.

  • Balance your meals
    • Include all food groups each day. Learn more at www.ChooseMyPlate.gov.
  • Drink Water
    • Stay hydrated by drinking water instead of sugary drinks. Keep a reusable water bottle with you to always have water on hand.

Good nutrition is an important part of leading a healthy lifestyle. Combined with physical activity, your diet can help you to reach and maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk of chronic diseases (like heart disease and cancer), and promote your overall health. Healthy eating habits isn’t as confusing or as restrictive as many people imagine. The essential steps are to eat mostly foods derived from plants (vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes) and limit highly processed foods.

  • Maximize with nutrient-packed foods
    • Give your body the nutrients it needs by eating a variety of nutrient-packed food, including whole grains, lean protein, fruits and vegetables, and low-fat or fat-free dairy. Eat less food high in solid fats, added sugars, and sodium (salt).
  • Energize with grains
    • Your body’s quickest energy source comes from foods such as bread, pasta, oatmeal, cereals, and tortillas. Be sure to make at least half of your grain food choices whole-grain foods like whole-wheat bread or pasta and brown rice.
  • Power up with protein
    • Protein is essential for building and repairing muscle. Choose lean or low-fat cuts of beef or pork, and skinless chicken or turkey. Get your protein from seafood twice a week. Quality protein sources come from plant based foods, too.
  • Mix it up with plant protein foods
    • Variety is great! Choose beans and peas (kidney, pinto, black, or white beans; split peas; chickpeas; hummus), soy products (tofu, tempeh, veggie burgers), and unsalted nuts and seeds.
  • Vary your fruits and vegetables
    • Get the nutrients your body needs by eating a variety of colors, in various ways. Try blue, red, or black berries; red and yellow peppers; and dark greens like spinach and kale. Choose fresh, frozen, low-sodium canned, dried, or 100 percent juice options.
  • Don't forget dairy
    • Foods like fat-free and low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt, and fortified soy beverages (soymilk) help to build and maintain strong bones needed for everyday activities.
  • Know how much to eat
    • Get personalized nutrition information based on your age, gender, height, weight, current physical activity level, and other factors. Use SuperTracker to determine your calorie needs, plan a diet that’s right for you, and track progress toward your goals. Lean more at www.SuperTracker.usda.gov.