We hope you were able to plan ahead last week to make sure you had some healthy meal or snack options. If you were able to plan meals, were you able to cut down on restaurant or prepackaged meals?
Last week we learned about fiber, so this week we’re going to focus on helping you find protein and healthy fats to include in your diet. We’ll also learn about how to find healthy drinks you enjoy.
Proteins help you feel full, while also providing the foundation for your body. Your body depends on protein to build and support every single cell in your body, including your bones, muscles, skins, and yes, even your brain cells.
So where do you get protein? There’s a lot of protein in animal products such as meat, chicken and turkey, fish and seafood, eggs, milk, cheese, and yogurt. You can also get protein from plant-based foods like pinto beans, black beans, lentils, black-eyed peas, nuts, seeds, and soy-based products like tofu. Some of these foods also contain some carbohydrates and fats.
Fat makes many foods taste good and people often find it makes them feel more satisfied. Fats are essential for the body which means you can’t live without them. They make hormones, protect our bodily organs, keep our skin and hair looking healthy and vibrant, and help us stay warm. Fats are also a major source of energy for the body.
Especially good for you are the unsaturated fats or “healthy fats,” which are found in olive oil, canola, avocados, and most nuts and nut butters, like peanut butter and almond butter.
Omega-3 fatty acids are also great for you, which are found in fatty fish, like salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel, and sardines, walnuts, and flax seeds. Eating these healthy fats can help lower your risk of heart disease.
There’s one type of fat that you should avoid since it can raise your risk of heart disease – trans fat. Trans fats are usually called partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredient list, and are found in many baked goods and packaged foods like muffins, cookies, donuts, and crackers. Luckily, many food companies are reducing or replacing the trans fats in their products and some local governments have even banned them in restaurant foods.
Although fats are healthy, they are high in calories so being mindful of portion size is always important.
Our last groups to discuss are water, vitamins,and minerals. Staying hydrated is essential for overall good health. Water helps with multiple functions in the body such as preventing constipation, regulating blood pressure, and preventing kidney stones. While the jury is still out on exactly how much water we need to drink every day, a quick rule of thumb is half your bodyweight in ounces. So for example, if you weigh 200 pounds, you need 100 fluid ounces of water each day. This is just a general guideline as individual water needs may vary depending on medical conditions, medication use, etc.
Vitamins are essential nutrients your body needs in small amounts to work properly. They help with vision and keep your blood, skin, and hair healthy. Minerals help you build strong bones and teeth and allow the food you eat to be converted into energy so you can function. Both vitamins and minerals are found in healthy foods. Eating a variety of different foods helps make sure you are getting enough.
on June 9, 2020. Emily is a Registered Dietitian with her Master's degree in Nutrition from Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA, and is one of our Brook Experts.