What Is a Healthy Diet?

What we eat does have an enormous impact on our health. Fat, cholesterol and salt are all linked to heart disease and stroke and we can moderate their impact by making healthy food choices. A good basic approach to healthy eating is to eat and drink in moderation and to make smart food choices that provide a wellbalanced diet. According to the American Heart Association, your daily diet should have:

  • 30% or less of total calories from fat.
  • No more than 7% to 10% of total calories from saturated fat.
  • Less than 200 to 300 milligrams of cholesterol.
  • No more than 2300 milligrams of sodium.

Grains

  • Choose whole grain products at least 3 of the 6 recommended daily servings.
  • Look for whole grain cereals and breads with 3 or more grams of fiber per serving.
  • Choose whole grain pasta, rice, cereals, breads and crackers for more fiber and with little or no added fats.

Fruits

  • Eat 3 to 5 servings of fruits each day.
  • Avoid fruits in heavy syrups. They should be packed in their own juice or water.
  • Fresh fruits have higher fiber than canned fruits.
  • Look for juices that contain 100% juice.

Vegetables

  • Eat 3 - 5 servings of vegetables each day.
  • Choose a variety of vegetables including dark green, red or orange colored vegetables.
  • When possible choose fresh or frozen with no salt added.
  • Rinse and drain canned vegetables before using.

Dairy Products

  • Choose products with skim, 1/2% or 1% milk.
  • Choose reduced fat cheeses.
  • Choose low fat milk products.
  • Substitute fat free coffee creamers, nonfat frozen yogurt, ice milk, or ice cream.

Protein Sources

  • Choose ground beef that is at least 90% lean.
  • Choose round, loin, or flank cuts of beef, pork or other red meats.
  • Canadian bacon is much lower in fat than regular bacon.
  • Choose fish or chicken canned in water rather than oil.
  • Dried beans and lentils are fat free.
  • Use egg whites or egg substitutes.
  • Remove the skin from poultry to cut the fat in half.

Fats and Oils

  • Choose peanut, olive or canola oil.
  • Choose reduced fat for fat free salad dressings.
  • Select margarines that have less than 1/2 gm trans fat per serving.

Vitamin Sources

  • Vitamin A - Carrots, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, butternut squash, and dried apricots
  • Vitamin B12 - Milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs, and all types of meat
  • Vitamin C - Citrus fruits, fruit juices, strawberries, fresh peppers, broccoli, kale and kiwi
  • Vitamin E - Almonds, sunflower seeds, peanut butter, tomato juice, and olive oil
  • Folic Acid - Broccoli, dried beans, fish, beef, spinach, asparagus, peas and orange juice