Healthy Diet Essentials

When you put effort into eating a healthy diet, your body will thank you. Eating right means giving yourself more energy and more focus, as well as empowering you to feel your best.

Fruits and veggies

Fruits and vegetables should make up a significant portion of your diet. Not only are most of them rich in vital nutrients and minerals, they're also full of fiber that will help keep your digestive tract running smoothly. Green, leafy vegetables like spinach and broccoli tend to be especially high in important vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin E, iron and zinc. Fruits like strawberries and blueberries contain high levels of antioxidants, while more acidic citrus fruits like oranges and kiwis tend to have plenty of vitamin C.

Lean meats

Lean meats are a great source of protein. Sometimes protein is referred to as the body's "building block," and for good reason. Protein helps repair and create tissue. It's essential to creating and maintaining muscles and skin. Lean meats like chicken breast, turkey and fish are all good sources of protein, but they aren't the only options. Proteins can also be found in foods like nuts, seeds and beans. Tofu (soy bean curd) is often a prime source of protein for those who want to build a healthy diet without eating meat.

Carbohydrates

Contrary to some popular diet trends, carbohydrates are an essential part of a healthy diet because they are the body's main source of energy. The two kinds of carbohydrates are simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates can be thought of as sugars, while complex carbohydrates are starches. In general, complex carbohydrates are better for the body because they take longer to break down. This gives the body a steady energy source instead of a quick rush of sucrose that has no long-term benefit. Avoid overly processed foods that tend to have a lot of simple carbohydrates. These provide more energy than the body can feasibly use. When the body has leftover energy, it's stored as fat.

To maintain a healthy diet, pile your plate with fruits, veggies, lean protein and healthy carbs every day. Usually these sources are at their nutritional best when they're least processed (in other words, as fresh as possible). Steer clear of anything that contains added salt or sugars. Remember that while each category of fruits, veggies, protein and carbohydrates is important, it's their combination that truly creates a balanced diet.

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