Guidelines for Healthy Eating
Eating a variety of foods and maintaining an energy balance are basic guidelines for a healthy diet. Good nutrition is not complicated for those who understand these dietary guidelines.
To be properly nourished, one should regularly eat a wide variety of foods from the major food groups, selecting a variety of foods from within each group. A well-balanced diet provides all the nutrients needed to keep one healthy.
Most healthy adults do not need vitamin or mineral supplements if they eat a proper variety of foods. There are no known advantages in consuming excessive amounts of any nutrient, and there may be risks in doing so.
For one get enough fuel from the food they eat and to obtain the variety of foods needed for nutrient balance, one should eat three meals a day. Even snacking between meals can contribute to good nutrition if the right foods are eaten.
Another dietary guideline is to consume enough calories to meet one's energy needs. Weight is maintained as long as the body is in energy balance, that is, when the number of calories used equals the number of calories consumed.
The most accurate way to control caloric intake is to control the size of food portions and thus the total amount of food ingested. One can use standard household measuring utensils and a small kitchen scale to measure portions of foods and beverages. Keeping a daily record of all foods eaten and physical activity done is also helpful.
To estimate the number of calories you use in normal daily activity, multiply your body weight by 13 if you are sedentary, 14 if somewhat active, and 15 if moderately active. The result is a rough estimate of the number of calories you need to maintain your present body weight. You will need still more calories if you are more than moderately active. By comparing caloric intake with caloric expenditure, the state of energy balance (positive, balanced, or negative) can be determined.
Avoiding an excessive intake of fats is another fundamental dietary guideline. A high intake of fats, especially saturated fats and cholesterol, has been associated with high levels of blood cholesterol.
Avoiding an excessive intake of fats is an important fundamental of nutrition.
The blood cholesterol level in most Americans is too high. Blood cholesterol levels can be lowered by reducing both body fat and the amount of fat in the diet. Lowering elevated blood cholesterol levels reduces the risk of developing coronary artery disease (CAD) and of having a heart attack. CAD, a slow, progressive disease, results from the clogging of blood vessels in the heart. Good dietary habits help reduce the likelihood of developing CAD.
It is recommended that all persons over the age of two should reduce their fat intake to 30 percent or less of their total caloric intake. The current national average is 38 percent. In addition, we should reduce our intake of saturated fat to less than 10 percent of the total calories consumed. We should increase our intake of polyunsaturated fat, but to no more than 10 percent of our total calories. Finally, we should reduce our daily cholesterol intake to 300 milligrams or less.
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