With all the information circulating about nutrition and health, it’s easy to get confused about what’s hype and what’s healthful. We’ve done your homework for you and gathered a list of five of the top nutrition habits that help improve your overall health.
At Wasatch Peak Family Practice and Oceans Contours in Layton, Utah, our board-certified providers know your annual physical exam is one of best diagnostic and preventive tools available for evaluating your overall health. It’s also a great time to discuss any nutritional concerns and order additional testing as needed.
During your physical exam, your provider reviews your personal medical history, family history, any current symptoms or issues, and answers any questions you have — including those related to nutrition. It’s a perfect time to create a personalized nutritional plan to meet your unique needs.
Before you come in for your physical exam at Wasatch Peak Family Practice and Oceans Contours, take a moment to look at some of the top nutrition habits that give your overall health a boost.
1. Basing your meals around veggies
You don’t have to go vegan, but a plant-based way of eating that bases your meals around vegetables can be the key to good health. Try adding more dark, leafy greens, which are full of nutrients, minerals, and vitamins, like folate, that are excellent for your heart and boost your overall health. Add small amounts of protein and fat and think of them as condiments rather than the main dish.
2. Eating lots of legumes and beans
Legumes and beans are phenomenal sources of protein. But they also have things animal protein sources don’t, like fiber, heart-healthy non-heme iron, and phytochemicals that offer protection against heart disease and other health conditions by lowering cholesterol, increasing healthy gut bacteria, and decreasing blood sugar.
Some of the healthiest legumes and beans include:
- Chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans)
- Lentils (all varieties)
- Kidney beans
- Black beans
- Soybeans and tofu
- Pinto beans
Aim for eating a cup of these healthy proteins each day. Just be sure to limit how much salt you add to your beans and legumes or look for low-sodium cans for optimal heart health.
3. Not skipping breakfast
Research consistently shows that eating breakfast helps you maintain a healthy weight and stops unhealthy cravings that can result when you skip this important meal. Build a healthy breakfast by including at least 2-3 food groups in each early morning meal, such as whole grain oatmeal, a handful of nuts, and a green smoothie made with dark greens, oat milk, and berries.
4. Avoiding saturated fats
Fat is an important component of a healthy diet, but saturated fats are bad for your health. They increase your blood cholesterol, which in turn increases your risk of hypertension and heart disease. Common sources of saturated fat include:
- All types of meat, especially fatty cuts
- All dairy products (e.g., cheese, milk, butter)
- Products made with any of these ingredients
Instead of reaching for these sources of fat, look for products with unsaturated fat, like olive or vegetable oils and avocado and opt for lean sources of protein.
5. Saying no to sugar
Saying no to sugar is a great habit when it comes to boosting your overall health. While the natural sugars in whole foods, like fruit and carrots, come with healthy elements, like fiber, vitamins, and other essential nutrients, refined sugar is a different story.
Refined sugars are forms of sucrose, the “sugar” part of plants like sugar cane that manufacturers extract from the plant. They’re refined into crystals or liquids that can be packaged and sold.
Sugar has been linked to a wide range of health concerns, including:
- Heart disease
- Hormone issues
- Liver disease
- Mental health disease
By reading labels and avoiding foods with refined sugars, you can improve your health. And don’t forget to skip any drinks, including flavored waters, with added sugar.
Get help evaluating and improving your nutrition so you can enjoy optimal health by contacting Wasatch Peak Family Practice and Oceans Contours to schedule your annual physical exam. If you wish, you can send a message to your provider using our online tool.