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Last updated: January 07. 2014 11:47PM - 597 Views
Margaret Brackett Contributing Columnist



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Diana Pitcher, a licensed and registered dietitian with the Department of Health and Environment Control, is our guest this week. She will approach Newberry citizens with a positive message about eating habits and increasing physical activity for a better health program.


“Get Your Plate in Shape” is the 2014 nutrition message so let’s discuss what goes on your plates. First there are seven tips in order to make your plate more fit.


— Make half of your plate fruits and veggies and be sure to have a good variety each week. Most adults need 2.5 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit per day. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, especially those that are dark green, red and orange. Fresh, frozen and canned all count but choose reduced or no salt. For canned fruit, choose those in water or 100 percent juice instead of syrup. Fruits and veggies are excellent sources of fiber and nutrients that help improve health and prevent certain disease. In particular, apples contain flavonoids that can help prevent head and neck cancer along with colon, breast and lung cancers. Blueberries are among the fruits that provide antioxidant power. Cranberries are also very high in antioxidant power. Grapes and grape juice have the phytochemical (any bioactive chemical compounds found in plants) that helps slow the growth of cancer cells and inhibit the formation of tumors in the liver, stomach, lymph and breast cells. For these benefits, choose red or purple grapes. Your grape juice should say it is made with Concord grapes. As for vegetables, tomatoes contain lycopene which has been shown to reduce risk of prostate cancer. Tomato sauce, paste and juice are readily absorbed by the body. Research shows tomatoes can help with the prevention of breast, lung and endometrial cancers. Vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, turnips and collards help prevent some types of cancers.


— Switch to fat free or low fat milk. All milk has the same amount of calcium and other nutrients. The only difference is how much fat and calories there are. Lactose free milk has the same nutrient and calcium and come in low fat options. If using soy milk, be sure it is fortified with calcium and vitamin D. In general, 3 servings per day is recommended which could include yogurt, fortified cereals and juices, dark green leafy veggies, canned fish with bones or a supplement or multivitamin that contains calcium and Vitamin D.


— Vary your protein choices. Make sure you get a good variety of protein during the week. Seafood should be the protein on your plate twice a week. Lean beef, poultry and eggs are also great sources of protein. Don’t forget about nuts and beans as great protein sources such as black beans, pinto beans, almonds and walnuts. Many people over the age of 50 years old need to make sure they get adequate vitamin B-12. Lean meats and seafood are excellent sources of vitamin B-12. Remember beans as a protein source is also very high in fiber.


— Cut back on empty calories, salt, fat and sugar. Empty calories are foods that offer no nutritional value. Empty calories mainly come from sugary beverages like soda. Try to drink more water and 100 percent fruit juice instead of fruit flavored drinks. Compare labels when watching salt in your diet and choose those with less salt or sodium. Try using stronger herbs and seasonings to flavor foods instead of salt. For those folks over 50 years, increasing your potassium along with reducing sodium may lower your risk of high blood pressure. Potassium can be found in fruits, vegetables, low fat or fat free dairy products such as milk and yogurt.


— Fiber is important in diet. Fiber can help lower your risk of heart disease, control your weight, maintain proper bowel function and even help prevent Type 2 diabetes. You want to make at least half your grains whole. This would be 3 out of your recommended 6 cups per day would be whole grains. Whole grains include bread, crackers, pasta and brown rice. Whole grain types of grains have more fiber than the standard white versions of the same foods.


Saturated fats come from foods such as desserts, pizza, cheese, sausages, and hot dogs. Choose healthier fats such as oils and sprays like canola, corn, olive, peanut and soybean oils, which are polyunsaturated and monounsaturated, to cook food instead of solid fats that are saturated and Trans fats.


Water should be included in a daily diet. Everyone should drink about 64 ounces of water per day. That is equal to about 3 to 4 standard house hold cups per day (about 16-20 ounce cups). But you can also take in water through soups, fruits and vegetables. These may be great alternatives to getting enough water if you get bored with just simply drinking your water. There are also several sugar free, caffeine free drinks that have flavor but help to increase your fluid intake.


Aging adults have lower calorie needs. So instead of thinking in terms of good and bad foods, think nutrient rich. Most of your food choices should be packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and lower calories. And as most know, there is an increased need for calcium and vitamin D for bone strength. Enjoy your food, but eat less.


Be physically active your way. Pick an activity that you like and do it. Start with 10 minutes at a time and work your way up. Recommended amount for children is 60 minutes per day and for adults 2.5 hours or more per week. Older adults should set a goal of being active every day for at least 30 minutes.


Daily exercise is essential to long-term health. But all those hours of exercise won’t pay off if they are not combined with healthy eating habits.


I would like to stress eating healthy does not mean you have to give up all of your favorite foods and drinks. Avoid oversize portions, cook at home more often, and when eating out choose lower calorie options. If you drink alcohol, limit yourself to 1 – 2 drinks per day to avoid excessive calories.


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