The foods that people regularly eat can have a direct impact on their health. Whether that impact is good or bad depends on a number of factors, including diet. Choosing to eat unhealthy foods that offer low nutritional value yet high amounts of calories and carbohydrates can ultimately result in any number of problems, ranging from weight gain to heart disease. Ultimately, the problems caused by unhealthy eating can lead to death. Alternatively, choosing to eat a balanced diet and consuming the right foods can improve, help maintain and reduce the risks to one's health. Because eating correctly can lead to an improvement in one's overall health, people should make a conscious decision to remodel their current eating habits and remove any unhealthy tendencies.
The Importance of Variety
People can remodel their diets so that they are eating a variety of foods and food types. Instead of focusing on one food item or one food group, such as regularly eating vegetable-based salads, for example, a person should strive to include food from other groups. This includes adding fruits, lean meats, healthy fats, and whole grains to their diet as well. Variety is important to good health, as different types of food have different types and amounts of vitamins and minerals. By eating a variety of foods, one has an increased chance of getting the proper nutrition required for good health.
- How to Start Eating a Healthy Diet: This is an article on eating healthy that includes ten things that people can do to eat healthy. The list starts off by encouraging eating a variety of foods and explains why.
- Offer a Variety of Foods: By clicking on this link, parents of young children will read about why it is important to feed them a variety of foods. The page also offers tips on how to go about feeding them different types of food.
- Benefits and Statistics About Eating Healthfully Detailed: This is an article that provides statistics and information about healthy eating that is useful for anyone who plans to remodel or change their diet and eating habits. In addition to statistics, readers are given basic nutrition information, including advice on eating a variety of foods.
- Nutrition Fact or Fad (PDF): Find out what is nutritional fact and what is fiction by clicking on this link. The document presents 15 statements, including one on eating a variety of foods. Following the statement, the reader learns if it is fact or if it is a belief based on a fad.
- What Color is Your Food? (PDF): Read about the different benefits associated with fruits and vegetables according to color by clicking on this link. The document discusses the importance of variety when it comes to eating fruits and vegetables.
Moderation of Sugar
Sugar is a carbohydrate that is naturally found in some foods and is added to others. Sucrose, or white granulated sugar, is the sugar that most people are familiar with; however, there are other types of sugar that include fructose, lactose, corn syrup, and more. Per teaspoon, sugar has approximately 16 calories, but it lacks important nutrients, and when eaten in excess, it can cause weight gain and obesity. The more weight that people gain, the greater their risk of health problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure, for example. One's teeth are also affected by sugar when proper dental hygiene is not followed. According to the American Heart Association, sugar may be included in a healthy diet, but in moderation. For women, this means consuming 100 of their daily calories or less from sugar. Men should consume 150 calories or less from sugar on a daily basis. People can control their sugar intake by drinking water, reducing the amount of cookies, candy, cake, or other sweet treats and desserts, and carefully reading labels on food items that they purchase. Labels can inform consumers of the amount and type of sugars and carbohydrates found in food.
- Choose a Diet Moderate in Sugars: The information on this page briefly reviews sugar-related information that is helpful for people who want to make an improvement to their diet by moderating sugar consumption. Information on this page includes different forms of sugar, sugar substitutes, sugar and weight loss, and how it affects the teeth.
- Using Sugar in Moderation (PDF): In this document, readers will find information about sugar in foods and the carbohydrate difference between regular sugar and sugar-free food items. The document also includes tips on reading food labels correctly.
- Sugar and Your Health (PDF): Anyone interested in understanding sugar and its effects can read this document for information about having a healthy diet while having a sweet tooth, how to tell if sugar has been added to food, and whether sugar itself is bad. The document also answers whether people should be worried about the amount of sugar in their diets.
- Cutting the Sugar: Open this page to read about what sugar is and terms that are associated with different types of sugar. Find suggestions for buying and using sugar in moderation.
- Sweeteners: Sugar: On the Drexel University College of Medicine website, readers are able to review the definition, side effects, and food sources of sugars. The page also includes alternative names and recommendations from various health associations on how to lower its use.
Vitamins and Minerals
The human body performs many functions on a daily basis that help to keep the body strong, encourage continued development, and ensure that it operates the way that it should. To do that, the body requires vitamins and minerals. Specifically, there are 13 vitamins that the body needs and 15 minerals. These vitamins include vitamins A, C, D, E, K, and B vitamins including thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, biotin, vitamin B-6, pantothenic acid, foliate, and B-12. They are either water-soluble or fat-soluble, which means that they are either carried into the bloodstream through water or through the lymph channels. Without the proper amount of vitamins in the body, a person may develop certain health problems. Minerals in the body are either trace or macrominerals. Trace minerals are minerals that are needed in small amounts. Even in small amounts, however, these minerals are important for good health. Trace minerals include copper, iodine, zinc, selenium, fluoride, iron, cobalt, and manganese. Major or macrominerals include sodium, calcium, potassium, phosphorous, chloride, sulfur, and magnesium. People are able to get most of their vitamins and minerals through the food that they eat; however, supplements are available.
- Vitamins and Minerals: Parents can review this page with their children to discuss vitamins and minerals including fat-soluble vitamins and macrominerals, for example.
- Optimizing Your Diet: Click on this link to read about specific minerals and which foods to eat for them.
- Vitamins: This page is an educational report on vitamins from the University of Maryland Medial Center. The report provides an in-depth look at vitamins by discussing vitamin health, what an adequate intake is, supplements, and more.
- Minerals: What They Do, Where to Get Them: People interested in learning about food sources for important minerals such as magnesium and potassium will find a chart that lists minerals, what they are needed for, and sources of them.
Good Fats vs. Bad Fats
Most people view fat as something that needs to be avoided. This is only partially true, as the body needs fat to aid in the absorption of certain nutrients, support the growth of cells, for energy, and to act as a type of cushion for its organs. There are two categories when it comes to fat: good fats and bad fats. Because of the impact they can have on one's health, it is important to be aware of the differences when buying and cooking food. There are also two types of bad fats and two types of good fats. Saturated and trans fats are both considered bad. Saturated fats are primarily from animal sources but also include tropical oils such as palm or coconut oils. Trans fats are oils that have been chemically processed so that they become more solid or semi-solid. Margarine is an example of trans fat. Eating foods that contain trans fats increases a person's risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes and also elevates bad, or LDL, cholesterol and lowers good, or HDL, cholesterol. Saturated fats also raise cholesterol and are associated with coronary heart disease.
Good fats are unsaturated fats such as monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat. At room temperature, these fats are typically liquid. They include plant oils and avocado and nut oils, and they include omega-3 fats that come from certain fish, such as salmon and mackerel, and from flaxseed, soybean, and other sources. Unlike bad fats, these good fats help lower bad cholesterol and protect against certain diseases, such as heart disease. Whenever possible, good fats should be used as substitutes for bad fats. But although they are considered good, they should still be used in moderation.
- Fats 101 (PDF): This document has educational information for anyone interested in learning about bad and good fats found in food. Readers will find a chart on good and bad fats that covers what foods each can be found in, how they affect the heart, their characteristics, and daily limits. Additional information covered in this document includes the different types of good and bad fat, how to live sensibly, and whether switching to good fats aids in weight loss.
- Good Fats, Bad Fats: Click on this page to review a chart on good and bad fats and to read information that will help explain both good and bad fats.
- Fats Fact Sheet (PDF): Read this fact sheet on fats to learn about the different types of good and bad fats and their food sources. This page also includes some fun fat facts.
- Good Fat, Bad Fat, Low Fat, No Fat: This article discusses all types of fat and why some are good for consumption and why others are not. In addition, the article also touches on understanding the fat information on product labels.
- Fat Substitution and Low-Fat Cooking (PDF): Upon opening this document, readers will find facts on fats, information on good vs. bad fats including a chart, and how to make changes while cooking so that bad fats are reduced and good fats are increased.
High blood pressure is one of the primary risks when it comes to too much salt intake. Elevated blood pressure is a condition that can lead to other problems that can threaten one's life, such as kidney disease, heart disease, or even heart failure. Excess sodium does this by causing water retention, which puts a strain on the arteries, kidneys, and heart. According to the latest dietary guidelines for Americans, people who are 2 years old or older should keep their daily sodium intake below 2,300 mg. Certain people, including people with diabetes, chronic kidney disease, or high blood pressure, should limit their daily sodium consumption to 1,500 mg. This lower sodium intake is also recommended for African Americans and people who are 51 years old or older. People get sodium from a number of sources, most commonly salt. In addition to salt, sodium comes from sources that include baking soda and baking powder. Salt is added to many foods, particularly those that are processed and prepackaged. To reduce salt intake, people must check the labels of the foods that they purchase, which will tell them how much is in the product. They should also avoid foods that have the word "salted" in the name and purchase items that are low-sodium or have no salt added. Canned foods, frozen dinners, hot dogs, and luncheon meats are all examples of foods that contain heavy amounts of salt. People can also limit the amount of salt that they add when cooking at home by using herbs and spices as flavor substitutes. Using fresh vegetables and fruits is also a way to cut back on sodium.
- Why Should I Limit Sodium? (PDF): When readers open this document about limiting sodium, they are given information about why too much of it is bad, how much is needed, and common sources. Readers also learn about what foods to eat less of and how to limit salt when cooking at home.
- Lowering Salt in Your Diet: Read this FDA consumer update regarding sodium in the diet. The page answers questions such as health effects of too much sodium, daily recommendations, and how to tell the difference between low- and high-sodium foods by reading the labels.
- Salt and Sodium: On this page, readers are provided with sodium facts and given information on limiting their daily intake.
- Sodium and the Diet (PDF): This is a document that is all about sodium and how it can affect one's health. Readers will learn the common sources of sodium, how much is necessary, and what health problems may arise from consuming too much. Sodium facts and information about labeling are also included in this document.
- Salt, Sodium, and Your Health (PDF): People who are interested in learning more about salt and having too much in their diet can click this link. The document that opens answers questions about salt and hypertension, too much salt, cooking at home without salt, and the differences in sodium labels.
Water can be found in every tissue and cell of the body. Unfortunately, the body loses water regularly from sweat, urination, or other bodily functions, and this can cause dehydration. When a body is dehydrated, it is unable to perform important functions such as digestion, maintaining body temperature, and transporting nutrients. For that reason, people must consume enough water to replace what is lost and to ensure that they have what is needed to remain healthy. The amount of water that a person needs on a daily basis varies from one person to another. Although traditional guidelines recommend eight to 13 glasses of water a day, some may need more or others may need less. To improve water intake, people can eat more fruits, which have a high water content, and keep a bottle of water on hand while at work or at play.
- Drink More Water (PDF): People who are interested in learning about water and drinking healthy may click on this link to learn about why drinking water is necessary. The document also provides a significant amount of information regarding sugary and other high-calorie drinks and healthy substitutions that may be consumed in addition to water.
- Drink More Water (PDF): Learn why water is essential for good health when reading this document. The page includes a drinking water quiz, information on how to drink more water, and the dangers of drinking too much.
- Fluids: This Iowa State University page discusses what water's role is in the body and in the diet. Readers are also given information about dehydration, over-hydration, and water consumption requirements associated with exercise.
- Six Reasons to Drink Water: Discover six top reasons why people need to drink enough water daily by reading this WebMD page. The three-page article lists the reasons and a brief explanation in a numbered format.
Certain types of carbohydrates that are found in vegetables, fruits, almonds, grains, and legumes are non-digestible. This is known as fiber but may also be called roughage or bulk. It serves several purposes, such as helping food to travel through the digestive system, aiding bowel function, and helping to regulate insulin response. Fiber also helps prevent constipation from occurring and makes people feel more full. The risk of elevated cholesterol and certain illnesses, such as type 2 diabetes, some forms of cancer, and heart disease, are also reduced by including the proper amounts of fiber in one's diet.
There are two fiber categories: soluble and insoluble. The type that dissolves in water is soluble fiber. This type of fiber is useful for reducing cholesterol and helping to control blood sugar. Oatmeal, nuts, citrus fruits, apples, beans, and barley are sources of soluble fiber. Unlike soluble fiber, insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. It is the type of fiber that bulks up stools and helps the movement of food through the digestive system. This fiber comes from certain beans and vegetables, including green beans, carrots, potatoes, and cauliflower. Wheat bran, whole-wheat cereals and flour, and nuts are also common sources of fiber. One can add more fiber to their diet if they are below the 21 to 38 grams daily that is recommended. The recommendations for fiber depend on both gender and age. For example, a woman between the age of 19 and 30 years old should take in 25 grams of fiber. A man in the same age group should take in 38 grams. This is accomplished by eating whole-grain cereals, consuming brown rice and other whole-grain products, and adding more fruits and vegetables to their diet.
- The Health Benefits of Fiber: People can read about the different ways that fiber is beneficial to their health in this article. By scrolling down further on the page, readers may also read about fiber and weight loss.
- Dietary Fiber: Essential for a Healthy Diet: This article reviews the importance of including fiber in one's diet. The page reviews the two ways in which it is often classified, the benefits of adding fiber to one's diet, and how much is recommended.
- What Exactly Does Fiber Do? On this page, readers will find information about how fiber is helpful and how much should be eaten. The article also references statistics from a study by the National Cancer Institute.
- Dietary Fiber (PDF): People can read about the differences in soluble and insoluble fiber and health benefits of high-fiber diets by clicking on this link. The document also includes information on how to increase one's fiber intake and food label terminology.