“Eat five different kinds of fruits and vegetables every day to recapture the disease-preventing phytochemicals missing in the American diet.” - Dr. James Duke, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Concentrate on the outside aisles of grocery stores and in natural foods sections where the freshest whole foods are generally found.
Organize your shopping list by categories and, preferably, by aisles in the store.
Be flexible and take advantage of seasonal vegetables and fruits.
“Vitamin and mineral supplements are no substitute for a variety of foods. ...Fruits, vegetables and grains contain a synergistic mix of micronutrients that haven’t been duplicated in pills or capsules. Eating a wide range of foods from the plant kingdom is considered better than relying on supplements.” - Dietary Guidelines for Americans, USDA
“The key that opens the door to variety and moderation is balance.” - Stephanie Belling, M.D., Author of Power Foods
A simple formula for dietary improvement:
Follow these inexpensive, simple rules to improve your diet.
Consume the following:
- One fruit at each meal or snack
- One vegetable at lunch, dinner, and as a snack
- One whole grain or starchy vegetable at every meal
- One serving of beans or legumes per day
- Use seeds and nuts as a healthy garnish
When you buy packaged and prepared foods, read the labels carefully and consider the impact of that particular food on your day’s food plan.
Avoid those products loaded with ingredients high in saturated fats and hydrogenated oils.
When the recipe calls for sugar, think about cutting back or substituting fruit.
Make your own substitution or alternatives list. For example, when the recipe calls for cream, substitute with evaporated skim milk. When your chili recipe calls for ground beef, you might think about substituting bulghur wheat or a meat substitute.
Substitute cooking methods when there is a more desirable way. For instance, there is no need to use a deep frying method to produce crisp flavorful potatoes; you can bake them at a high temperature instead. There is no need to thicken soups with cream; you can use pureed white beans, starch vegetables, or tofu instead.
Try new combinations or varieties of foods. Jerusalem artichokes or broccoli make wonderful low-fat dips or spreads when pureed with the herbs of your choosing.
Experiment with one new food a week to expand your horizons. Think about one of the less common grains, like quinoa or an exotic vegetable like radicchio or kohlrabi.
Try ways to make vegetables or legumes your main course for some of your meals.
When eating out, don’t think you are necessarily limited to the choices on the menu. Many chefs are happy to make changes and substitutions when you make a request.
Diet improvements for heart disease might include:
- Eating beans and legumes as substitutes for meat.
- Eating more garlic, along with its relatives: onions, leeks, and scallions.
- Food high in antioxidants: yellow, orange and dark green vegetables, and fruits.
- Increasing fiber consumption by eating whole grains, beans, and legumes.
- Reducing overall fat intake, while making monounsaturated fats, like olive oil, canola oil, and walnuts your main source of oil.
Diet improvements for hypertension might include foods high in potassium and magnesium, such as:
These foods represent good general choices for people without known food allergies or dietary restrictions. You should always check with your doctor or a dietician when planning changes in your diet.
- Whole grain or multigrain
- Less than 3 grams of fat per serving
- Breads with added bran, wheat germ or fiber
- Dark green, yellow, or orange colored fresh vegetables
- Locally grown and in-season vegetables and fruits
- Crisp vegetables and fruits without bruises
- Frozen vegetables (packed at the peak of their freshness and equal to fresh)
- Avoid frozen vegetables with high-fat sauces
- Tropical varieties of fruits
- Fat-free and low-fat varieties
- Cheeses with less than 3 grams of fat per serving
- Labeled extra-lean
- Labeled lean
- Kept well-iced or frozen
- Moist flesh, bright eyes, no dried edges
- Choose fresh, un-cracked, refrigerated eggs
- Special branded eggs that don’t raise cholesterol (rich in vitamin E)
- Frozen meals with less than 400 calories and 15 grams of fat.