Healthy Eating can mean different things to different people. Some people need to watch out for gluten or other allergens. Others need to follow a low sugar or low fat diet.
Here are some guidelines to follow if you’d like to start eating healthy food, but are not following a strict regime.
Study the product nutritional labels on product packaging. Look for foods with:
- Less then 4g of saturated fat for main dishes; less than 2g for sides and desserts
- Less than 4g of added sugar for main dishes and desserts; less than 2g for sides
- Less than 60mg of sodium for main dishes; less than 480mg for sides and desserts
- 0g of trans fat
- Only 100 percent whole grains
Scientific evidence that links eating habits to increased risk of certain diseases and conditions proves that “you are what you eat.”
Less then 4g of saturated fat for main dishes; less than 2g for sides and desserts
Reason: Saturated fats turn on genes that cause inflammation and hardening of the arteries, and are associated with higher bad LDL cholesterol levels. This increases the risk of heart attack, stroke and some cancers.
Foods high in saturated fats include full-fat dairy products, red meat, coconut oils and palm oils.
No Trans Fat
Reason: Trans fat has no redeeming qualities. It increases bad LDL cholesterol and decreases good HDL cholesterol, raising the risk of heart attack and stoke.
Although trans fat is found in small amounts in some meats and dairy products, most is consumed in the form of hydrogenated oils, which are added to stabilize products and lengthen shelf life. Products that claim to be “trans fat free” have less than 0.5 grams per serving. At Cleveland Clinic, we believe that no amount of trans fat is acceptable and have eliminated trans fat altogether.
Minimal Added Sugars and Syrups: less than 4 grams for main dishes and desserts; less than 2 grams for side dishes and soups.
Reason: Adding sugar translates to empty calories and causes blood sugar to fluctuate.
High blood sugar increases your risks of kidney disease and all arterial aging diseases, including skin wrinkling, impotence, stroke and heart attack.
100% Whole Grain
Reason: Whole grains are a vital source of fiber. Fiber has been shown to decrease the risk of heart disease, stroke and certain cancers, maintain blood sugar and insulin levels, assist with regular bowel movements and keep you feeling fuller longer.
Women need about 25 grams and men generally need 35 grams of fiber per day. This is heard to achieve by eating refined breads,, pastas and rice, from which the fiber has been removed.
Minimal Sodium: No more than 600mg in entrees; 480mg in sides and desserts
Reason: High sodium intake is associated with high blood pressure, increased risk of stroke and worsening of kidney disease, heart failure and other conditions.
The general recommendation is that no more than 2,300mg of sodium should be consumed per day — the amount in one teaspoon of salt.