Achieve a well-balanced diet by eating more fruits and vegetables, complex carbohydrates high in fiber and limiting your intake of unhealthy saturated fats.
Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are nutrient-rich, low in fat and calories and generally low in carbohydrates. The high water content in produce allows you to eat a higher volume of food for fewer calories. In addition to the water content, produce is also a source of fiber, which provides a satiating effect on the appetite, filling you up for longer than eating simple, refined processed carbohydrates. Increased satiety levels may prevent over-eating which could contribute to a higher total caloric intake and weight gain. Produce, such as berries, are also a source of antioxidants which help to prevent several forms of cancer and heart conditions.
A 1-cup serving of raw strawberries, halved, contains only 49 calories, zero fat and 3g of fiber. An 89g serving of raw baby carrots provides only 30 calories, 0g of fat and 2g of dietary fiber.
Choose Complex Carbohydrates
Complex carbohydrates are superior to their refined, white processed counterparts. Whole-grains, such as whole-wheat bread, have not have their bran and germ removed during milling processes which occurs with white bread. As a result, they are a higher source of fiber and other essential nutrients such as selenium, magnesium and potassium. A slice of commercial white bread contains 66 calories, 1.9 g of protein and 0.6 g of carbs. In comparison, a slice of whole-wheat bread has a similar 69 calories, but offers a higher 3.6 g of protein and 1.9 g of fiber.
Other examples of whole-grain products include brown rice, wild rice, barley, oatmeal and barley. Be sure to check product labels for the word whole-grain listed in the top three ingredients.
Limit Unhealthy Fats
Healthy fats, such as monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids, are needed in the diet for healthy body functions, hormonal balance and the absorption of vitamins. However, unhealthy fats such as saturated and trans-fat should be limited or eliminated as they increase the risk of coronary artery disease. These fats can increase blood cholesterol which can increase plaque build-ups in the arteries, known as atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. The American Heart Association recommends that less than 7 percent and 1 percent of your daily caloric intake come from saturated fats and trans-fats, respectively.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact a doctor for advice.