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Good Nutrition Starts in Your Kitchen

Sometimes the hardest part about leading a healthy lifestyle is having the ability to identify which foods are good for us and which are bad. Labels can be deceiving and can lead us to believe that something is healthy, when in fact it isn’t. Remember, it’s always healthier to eat at home than to eat out. Here are a few simple tips to help you maximize the nutrition in your kitchen. 

Stock Up on Fruits and Veggies 

Fill your fridge with lots of fruits and vegetables – of all different colors! It’s a good idea to keep a nice variety. Whenever possible, try to shop at local farmers’ markets instead of grocery stores. Here you’ll often find fresh fruits and vegetables that are organic, locally grown and fairly priced. Some of the healthiest fruits include apples, avocados, berries, mangos and citrus fruits. 

Arguably the “best” veggies are those that fall into the leafy green category. These include spinach, bok choy, arugula, broccoli, collard greens, kale, romaine lettuce and swiss chard. Dark green leafy vegetables are loaded with essential vitamins and minerals that our bodies thrive on including Vitamins A, C, K and folate, along with minerals, iron and calcium. Leafy greens are also an excellent source of fiber. Studies have shown that these vegetables promote overall heart health and can prevent certain types of cancers. These power foods are also said to defend our bodies from cell damage and protect our eyes from various issues that develop with age. 

Vitamin K and Older Adults 

Vitamin K plays an important role in the older adult diet. It can be beneficial in a number of ways:
  • Protects bones from osteoporosis
  • Plays a role in the prevention of diabetes
  • Helps to prevent and reduce atherosclerosis (since it has the ability to reduce calcium in arterial plaques)
  • Helps keep blood clotting under control
  • Helps to reduce inflammation (highly applicable to those suffering from arthritis)

Keep Omega-3 Foods on Hand 

A polyunsaturated fatty acid, Omega-3 helps to regulate metabolism levels, can stimulate blood circulation, reduce blood pressure and is known to help with the breakdown of fibrin (a compound present in clots and scars). Foods rich in Omega-3 include fish (fish types with the greatest amount of Omega-3 include herring, sardines, mackerel, salmon, halibut and tuna), flaxseed, eggs, walnuts, oregano and broccoli. 

Increase the Fiber 

A high-fiber diet has been shown to enhance healthy digestion, balance blood sugar levels, reduce constipation and even lower cholesterol. But, fiber can also absorb intestinal moisture, which causes constipation in some cases, so when you increase your fiber intake, be sure to also increase the amount of water you drink on a daily basis. To add a fiber-kick to your meals, cook with dried beans, peas, legumes and greens. 

Use the Right Cooking Oils 

Good cooking oils are those that have high smoke points such as avocado and coconut oil.  Oils with lower smoke points, such as olive oil, can go rancid if you cook them on heat that’s too high. Be sure to cook these types of oils on low heat. 

Cut Out the Microwave 

Microwaves can change the molecular configuration of our food once it’s heated. When this happens, the nutritional value of our food also changes. We may actually end up with far less nutrition after we’ve heated our plate in the microwave.  Instead, use your oven, stove or barbeque. Or, try to eat your leftovers cold instead of hot. 

Living healthier doesn't have to be complicated.  Follow these tips to get started and notice how you immediately feel better from the inside out.

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