By Hollie W. Best
Gannett News Service
Much recent research suggests that the way people eat has a lot to do with how healthy they are - and how healthy they stay. This research also has shown that eating a healthy diet - low in fat, high in fiber, with plenty of fruits and vegetables - could help lower cancer risk.
The role of nutrition and diet in reducing the risk of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus and certain forms of cancer, has been well documented.
Recommended dietary practices generally include the selection of foods from a variety of food groups, particularly the grain, fruit and vegetable groups. Also important: choice of a diet that is low in fat, saturated fat and cholesterol; and moderate use of salt and sodium.
Follow these guidelines for better health:
Enjoy plenty of whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Buy many kinds of fruits and vegetables when you shop so you have plenty of choices. Buy frozen, dried and canned as well as fresh fruits and vegetables.
Maintain a healthy weight. Excess body fat increases your chances for high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, some types of cancer and other illnesses.
Eat moderate portions. Do you know the recommended serving sizes?
Eat regular meals. Skipping meals can lead to out-of-control hunger, often resulting in overeating. Don't forget to start your day with breakfast.
Reduce, don't eliminate certain foods. Save french fries and other fried foods for special occasions. Have a small serving. Share with a friend.
Balance your food choices over time. You don't have to give up foods like hamburgers, french fries and ice cream to eat healthy. You just have to be smart about how often and how much of them you eat. Balancing food choices from the Food Guide Pyramid and checking out the nutrition facts panel on food labels will help you balance your food choices.
Know your diet pitfalls. Write everything down that you eat for three days. Look at what you're eating and how you can improve.
Make changes gradually. A few small actions can make a difference. For example, switch to reduced or nonfat salad dressing. Regular salad dressing has about 160 calories and 18 grams of fat in a two-tablespoon serving.
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