Is Your Diet Providing Enough Nutrients?

Posted by Luisa de Luca on

Fruits and Vegetables Several decades ago the average American sat down to home cooked meals abundant in the nutrients we need. The food we ate was simple and whole. Obesity was rare and so was disease. But things have really changed. As the country grew and became more wealthy, so did our choices at the supermarket. More and more ‘refined’ foods popped up. We cook macaroni and cheese by emptying powdered cheese packet over pasta instead of making it from scratch. Boxed and frozen dinners have become the norm. Sadly, so has obesity and frequent disease. Simply put, we are not getting the nutrients we need for a healthy life. Good thing this can be easily changed. Potassium Do you need to lower your blood pressure or fight the risk of osteoporosis? Potassium is for you. Want to lower your risk of heart disease or of diabetes? Potassium is your answer. In addition, potassium will regulate your body’s balance of water and enriches your nervous system. If you are really low in potassium, you can suffer muscle cramps, constipation, and fatigue. So, what foods are potassium rich? The most common choices are bananas or potatoes, but here are several more. • Sweet potatoes • Winter Squash • Carrots or their juice • Beans • Clams • Molasses • Yogurt • Prunes • Fish Fiber Dietary fiber is divided into two types. Soluble fiber can help lower glucose and cholesterol levels in the blood. Insoluble fiber helps food move through the digestive system properly. So if you are concerned about your cholesterol levels, fiber should become a good friend of yours. If you spend too much time and too much straining in the bathroom, time to invite fiber over for dinner, or lunch. Foods higher in soluble fiber are: • Oatmeal • Nuts • Beans • Apples • Blueberries Eating these and any other foods rich with fiber can reduce risk of stroke, type 2 diabetes, and protect your arteries. Foods higher in insoluble fiber are: • Whole grains • Beans and Legumes • Vegetables • Fruits Both soluble and insoluble fiber make you feel fuller longer, thus promoting weight loss. Dairy Products Calcium In addition to making bones and teeth strong, calcium assists in nerve transmission and makes our blood clot. Calcium is the most abundant nutrient in our body and we need a lot of it. But we don’t naturally produce it which means we must consume it in our food, or with supplements. 75% of Americans do get their daily recommended intake of calcium. But if you fall into the category of a young adult, or 51 years old or older, you need a higher amount. So, if you are getting the 1,000mg per day requirement but are a young adult or 51 or over, you’re still not getting enough. Hear is a list of the foods high in calcium: • Cheese • Yogurt • Milk • Sardines • Dark, Leafy Greens • Fortified Cereals • Fortified Orange Juice • Soybeans • Fortified Soymilk • Enriched Breads, Grains, and Waffles Vitamin D Vitamin D is the only vitamin that we can consume and that we make. Our bodies will produce vitamin D through exposure to sunlight. In addition, we can get it by eating it. It will protect our bones, regulate our cell growth, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. And last, but not least, it will help our body maintain its level of calcium. Ask any real athlete and they’ll tell you that vitamin D can reduce the risk of fractures, reduce inflammation and pain, and increase muscle protein. So, raise your hand if you believe you can do without vitamin D. Otherwise, here’s a list of foods that will enhance your vitamin D intake. • Wild caught fish (like salmon or mackerel) • Beef or calf liver • Egg yolks • Canned fish (like tuna or sardines) • Shiitake mushrooms Fortified Sources (carefully read the labels): • All milk • Yogurt • Almond milk • Pudding made with milk • Oranges juice • Breakfast cereals • Fortified tofu • Oatmeal • Cheese Of course this isn’t a comprehensive list of all the nutrients we need on a daily basis. But these are the ones we normally fall short consuming. The food we eat has an enormous effect on how we function and how we feel. Why not make a point of making sure we get enough?


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