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Understanding 'Healthy' Food Choices, Part 2

This week, we'll continue to break down a few of the other dietary guidelines offering tips for healthier eating.

As mentioned a week ago, government agencies release Dietary Guidelines every five years that offer tips for healthier eating. , we dissected one of the guidelines that was particularly unclear, guideline No. 3: Reduce the intake of calories from solid fats and added sugars.

This week, we'll continue working to break down a few of the other guidelines, which state to:

  1. Enjoy your food, but eat less.
  2. Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
  3. Reduce the intake of calories from solid fats and added sugars.
  4. Replace protein sources that are higher in solid fats with choices that are lower in solid fats and calories and/or are sources of oils and choose a variety of proteins.
  5. Limit the consumption of foods that contain refined grains.
  6. Increase the amount and variety of seafood to an intake of eight or more ounces per week.

First, let's explore guideline No. 4, which suggests replacing protein sources that are higher in solid fats with choices lower in solid fats and calories. In selecting healthier meat options, Jeff Bradford, a butcher at Shopper's Corner in Santa Cruz, said grass-fed animals are the way to go.

“I think the fish and grass-fed meats are probably the healthiest fats, they carry more of the omega 3 fatty acids,” Bradford said. “White meat like chicken and lean pork are definitely good choices for people watching their fat intake.”

As for the second part of the guideline, which calls to replace protein with sources of oils, Martha Quintana, a registered nurse and certified diabetes educator at the in Watsonville, reccomended trying nuts, avocados and olive oil for some good-fat options.

Now, let's tackle guideline No. 5, calling to limit the consumption of food that contains refined grains. Fortunately, there's an abundance of unrefined grains available at most health food stores.

Among some of the best are barly, quinoa and buckwheat. Barly is so healthful its consumption can reduce levels of bad cholesterol, technically known as low-density lipoprotein, and it also reduces blood sugar levels, which is important for diabetics, according to an article in Psychology Today.

As for quinao and buckwheat, Psychology Today states that the complex carbs present in these grains helps regulate the flow of nutrients, and that they both help lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of developing high cholesterol levels and protect the cardiovascular system.

All these grains can be found at markets like , in Santa Cruz and in Capitola.

Okay, so guideline No. 3, stating to make one's plate half full of fruit and vegetables is no surprise. The importance of consuming fruits and veggies has been known forever, but nonetheless, only 26 percent of Americans consume vegetables three or more times a day, according to a 2010 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There are tons of reasons explaining why Americans are lacking on the fruit and veggie scale. Firstly, there's a lot of people out there who simply dislike the taste of vegetables.

Another explanation could have to do with the difficulty some people experience when selecting ripe produce. Depending on the store and the locality of needed produce, some has to be shipped from afar, and may be picked green so it has time to ripen during its journey to the U.S. However, that doesn't mean that every piece of fruit or vegetable is going to be ripe by the time it hits the grocery-store shelf.

Generally speaking, when selecting fruit and veggies, try grabbing items that appear deeper in color. Smell and softeness are also good indicators of ripe produce.

Ken Iverson August 26, 2011 at 06:35 AM
grt article. I just wanted to share something with you guys. I ahve been using this product which vegan alternative for Omega3 know as V-Mega3 with amazing results. You can also buy this product at amazon

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