1. Enjoy a variety of foods.
Scientists continue to uncover information about the health benefits of many different components found in foods, such as vitamins, minerals and a wide array of other disease-fighting plant chemicals. If you eat a range of foods, you'll have more chances to consume a wide variety of these healthful nutrients!
2. Fill up on fruits and vegetables.
Studies keep confirming the health benefits of these foods, and your best bets are the most colourful. Think orange (squash, carrots, sweet potatoes and apricots), red (tomatoes, strawberries and red peppers), blue (berries and grapes), green (broccoli, spinach and leafy greens) and yellow (corn and bananas). Vitamin C-rich foods include oranges, grapefruits, melons, mangoes, berries, kiwifruits and papayas. Foods from the cruciferous family, including broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage, are packed with nutrients, too. Eat them raw or cooked, or in sauces, soups and stir-fries.
3. Eat fish regularly.
Fatty fish – salmon, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines and more – are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower your risk of heart disease. Lean fish, such as sole and flounder, are low in fat and high in protein.
4. Get enough calcium.
This mineral helps keep bones healthy and may help you lose weight, too. Adding dietary calcium to a low-calorie diet helps your body mobilize and break down stored fat. It also helps you maintain a healthy weight. The best food sources are milk, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products; fortified soy beverages; fortified orange juice; tofu made with calcium; canned salmon with the bones; sardines; and leafy green vegetables.
5. Include iron-rich foods.
Iron-deficiency anemia is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies among Canadian women. The best food sources are red meat, liver, clams, eggs, lentils and other legumes, dried fruits and iron- enriched cereals and pasta. To make non-meat iron easier to absorb, combine it with a good source of vitamin C, such as citrus fruit or juice, berries or melons.
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6. Fill up on fibre.
Whole grain breads and cereals, oat cereals, fruits, vegetables, beans and lentils are packed with fibre, the indigestible part of the plant that helps keep our digestive system regular. It can help regulate blood sugar, lower cholesterol and protect against some cancers.
7. Eat foods rich in folate.
This B vitamin lowers the risk of neural tube defects in fetuses and is a most for women considering pregnancy. Folate also helps regulate levels of a protein substance in the blood called homocysteine; high levels of it are associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Folate is present in dark green vegetables (broccoli, spinach, romaine lettuce, peas and Brussels sprouts), orange juice, liver and dried peas and beans.
8. Eat breakfast.
In the morning your blood sugar is low, and your brain, as well as your body, needs refuelling to get moving and thinking. Skipping breakfast often means that you're more likely to eat more calories later in the day.
9. Be fat savvy.
Eating less fat, especially saturated and trans fats, is heart healthy. New studies also show that eating some fat, especially healthy fat, is good for you and may help you manage your weight. (Read 9 great ways to add healthy fat to your diet.)
Eating can bring tremendous pleasure to your life. Food should be something to savour – not something to worry about. Take time to enjoy nutritious and delicious meals with family and friends.
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