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Eating healthy is one of three important steps you can take for a better life; exercise and avoiding risky behavior like smoking and drug use are the other two.

Healthy eating doesn’t have to be boring, but it does mean that you should eat lots of fruits and vegetables; fill half your meals with these every day.  Many main dishes can be made primarily from vegetables especially soups. Reducing the amount of salt is also important; avoiding packaged seasoning mixes and processed foods helps reduce your salt intake.

Fats: Some fats are better for you than others. Saturated fats should be avoided but fats high in Omega-3 oils should be included in your diet. These can be found in salmon, walnuts, and often in eggs and milk when noted on their label. Regardless of the type of fat, you should minimize, but not eliminate, your intake of fats.

What’s better: Fresh, frozen or canned? Unless it is from your garden or from a farmer’s market, frozen fruits and vegetables probably have a slightly higher nutrient content than fresh produce from the supermarket; this is because frozen vegetables are picked at their ripest. Produce in the supermarket is usually picked early so it won’t decay before it is sold. Canned vegetables aren’t bad, but they can lose some vitamins and often have added salt.

What’s better: Regular produce or organic? Nutrient-wise, they are pretty much the same if harvested at the same level of maturity. If you are concerned about pesticides, more than half of the regular produce sampled has no detectable level of pesticides. Even organic growers use pesticides; they just use organic pesticides! For the lowest levels possible, buy produce grown in the United States by organic growers.

For meats, eggs and dairy products, buying organic does make sense because you have lower exposure to the antibiotics and hormones used by conventional agriculture.

Chicken, Fish, Beef or Pork: As a general rule, try to eat more chicken and fish. The skinless white meat of chicken and turkey are the leanest meats followed by white fish, salmon, pork and beef.

Whole or Processed Grains: Whole grains are by far better for you! The milling process removes much of the nutrient value and manufacturers “add” some back, that’s why you can buy enriched flour and rice. Use whole wheat products and brown rice whenever possible, but be aware that many whole wheat breads have processed flour as their main ingredient.

What’s wrong with carbohydrates? Carbohydrates are a slow release energy source which converts to sugars in your bloodstream. There is nothing wrong with carbohydrates as long as you don’t include too much in your diet and the sources of your carbohydrates are also high in fiber. Beans are a god source of carbohydrates, protein and fiber. http://www.nutrition411.com/pdf/Bean%20Comparison%20Chart.pdf

For more information on general nutrition please go to http://www.nutrition.gov/

To compare common fruits

http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/LabelingNutrition/ucm063482.htm

To compare common vegetables

http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/LabelingNutrition/ucm114222.htm