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Dietary Guidelines in Action

Make healthful changes to your diet using five deliciously simple steps.

New Dietary Guidelines for Americans were recently issued by the USDA. While the core messages about eating healthy are basically the same, the guidelines now focus on how you can put them into action. Here are five key recommendations and some deliciously simple ways to make healthful changes to your diet.
 

5 Tips to Get Started

1.  Eat More of What Matters to Manage your Waistline.
Weight management is all about calorie balance—how much you eat vs. how much you burn. Choose foods that are lower in calories but packed with nutrients, and over time you’ll see that eating more nutrient-dense foods is a great way to reach or keep a healthy weight.

  • Try whole grain cereals or oatmeal instead of that bagel or pastry for breakfast
  • Go for low-fat yogurt or cottage cheese instead of ice cream to shave calories
  • Begin lunch or dinner with a serving of broth-based soup—it can help satisfy your appetite and boost your daily veggie intake
  • Make a filling and delicious sandwich with roasted vegetables and lean meats like turkey on whole wheat bread

2.  Better Health Begins with Vivid Vegetables and Fruits.
Pile your plate with veggies and fruits! Research shows that eating at least 2½ cups a day can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. They are also good for the waistline as they have a high water content and are relatively low in calories. Choose a variety of colors to get a good mix of nutrients, especially the dark green and red-orange kinds.

  • Dip baby carrots and chopped veggies in hummus or low-fat dressing
  • Add colorful veggies like broccoli, red peppers, orange or yellow tomatoes and spinach to pizzas, pastas or omelets
  • Try adding berries to oatmeal, cereal and yogurt
  • Grill veggie and fruit kabobs: thread chunks of bell pepper, onion and eggplant onto skewers, drizzle with a touch of olive oil then grill until vegetables are tender. It’s a terrific and simple side dish, especially in the summer when produce is abundant. Fruit is also delicious grilled—try chunks of bananas or pineapple anytime, or ripe peaches, plums or nectarines in the summertime.

3.  Whole Grains are Still a Hero!
Not only can you taste the goodness of whole grains, but research shows you can feel it too. Whole grains support digestion and naturally provide fiber and important B vitamins. Eating them is associated with a lower body weight and decreased risk of heart disease. To reap the benefits, eat half your grains as whole grains everyday.

  • Replace white rice and pasta with brown rice and whole wheat varieties
  • Make wraps or burritos with whole wheat tortillas
  • Don’t be afraid to try grains like bulgur, barley and quinoa in recipes

4.  Get Creative with Protein!
Getting a balanced variety of protein foods can provide all sorts of health benefits. Eat eight ounces of seafood per week in place of other meats to support a healthy heart. Peanuts, walnuts and almonds are rich sources of monounsaturated fats that can help reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease—choose small amounts in place of sugary snacks in between meals. Legumes like kidney beans, black beans and lentils are a great source of plant-based protein and are low in fat! So mix up your menu by incorporating seafood, legumes, soy products, nuts, seeds, lean meats and poultry into your meals:

  • Enjoy toast with peanut or almond butter
  • Grill or broil salmon, tuna or tilapia for dinner
  • Edamame (soybeans in the pod; find it in the frozen food section of the grocery store) is fun to eat—try it as a snack or appetizer!
  • Go vegetarian one or two nights a week by eating legume-rich chili, pasta with cannellini beans, or use cooked lentils in place of ground beef in tacos or burritos.

5.  Fat Matters!
Fat gets a bad reputation, but our bodies need it to work properly—just be sure to go for the more healthful kinds. Plant-based fats can help lower cholesterol and fish oils are good sources of Omega-3 fats that are great for your heart. Use vegetable oils like olive, canola and corn in place of butter and stick margarine, and choose lean or low-fat forms of meat, poultry, milk and cheese.

  • Try nut butters on toast and sandwiches in place of butter
  • Spread avocado on sandwiches instead of mayonnaise
  • Choose low-fat or fat-free milk in cereal and beverages
  • Eat fish high in omega-3s such as salmon, tuna and trout
These small steps can help you manage your weight and put you on the road to good health! Want to learn more? Visit www.choosemyplate.gov to create an eating plan just right for you.
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