9 Steps You Can Take to Eat a More Healthy Diet

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Eat more than 5 cups of fruits and vegetables a day. Fruits and vegetables generally have low fat content, high fiber, and are packed with nutrients. To add more into your diet, buy a new vegetable or fruit every time you go to the grocery store; add chopped squash, mushrooms, or carrots to spaghetti sauce; and eat a piece of fruit rather than drinking juice.

Limit your fat intake. Try to keep your fat intake to about 30 grams per day, limit your saturated fat intake to less than 10% of your total calories per day, and avoid trans fats. To lower the amount of fat in your diet, eat less salad dressing; limit your use of shortening, butter, and cream cheese; cut out fried foods; and trim fat and skin off of meat and poultry before cooking.

Mix up your protein options. Some research suggests that there may be a link between eating red meat and breast cancer. Most of the concern is about processed meats and beef containing extra hormones and antibiotics. Try beans or lentils as a main dish, have an omelet for dinner, or stick to chicken and fish.

Avoid salt-cured, pickled, and smoked foods. They tend to have a lot of salt and nitrates, which can contribute to high blood pressure in some people.

Pay attention to portions. Focus on vegetables, whole grains, and fruits. Limit meat to about 6 ounces of cooked meat or poultry (without skin) per day.

Bake or broil food. Decrease the amount of calories in your food by baking or broiling it rather than frying it.

Cover your plate with low-calorie foods. Fill two-thirds of your plate with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, or beans, and one-third or less with meat and dairy products. Try spinach lasagna, vegetarian chili, or steamed or sautéed vegetables to get more vegetables in your diet.

Eat more fiber. Fiber can help lower cholesterol and glucose levels, make you feel full longer so you're less likely to overeat, and helps keep your bowels regular. Unprocessed fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are excellent sources of fiber. Add high fiber cereal or wheat bran to your favorite cereal, add kidney beans or black beans to soups and salads, and toss vegetables into pasta sauce.

Consider buying organic. There's a real concern that chemicals used to grow food may cause health problems, including an increase in breast cancer risk. To reduce your exposure to pesticides, you might want to buy organically grown food or organically produced dairy products. Visit the Exposure to Chemicals in Food page to learn more.


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