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Diet Foods For Optimum Nutrition and Weight

Nutritious Diet Foods

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Diet Foods For Good Health

Healthy diet foods are found in all major food groups, namely: fruits; vegetables; grains; dairy products; meats; nuts, seeds and beans; fats and oils. Within these food groups, for optimum dietary health, choose "nutrient-dense" foods. Generally speaking, this means choosing foods with a high nutritional content but with relatively few calories.

Choose Foods With Adequate Nutrition Within Your Calorie Level

The average American diet contains too many calories but too few nutrients. This is one reason for the surge in obesity levels as well as diet-related diseases such as insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. We are eating too many calories from non-nutritious foods which destabilize our blood glucose levels and impair our metabolic and digestive systems. Therefore, in order to improve our health and weight, many of us need to change our eating habits and choose meals and snacks that are higher in nutrients but lower in energy content.

See also: How Healthy Are Your Eating Habits?

Nutritional Deficiencies in Diet

Based on dietary intake data concerning the average American diet, the following groups may be at risk of deficiencies in a number of vitamins and minerals.

May suffer from a lack of calcium, potassium, fiber, magnesium, and vitamins A (as carotenoids), C, and E.

Children and Teens
May suffer from a deficiency of calcium, potassium, fiber, magnesium, and vitamin E.

Nutrient Deficiency Due To Low Intakes of Certain Diet Foods

  • Many Americans do not eat enough dietary fiber, which typically indicates they are not eating enough whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. The low intakes of vitamins A (as carotenoids) and C and magnesium also indicates a low intake of fruits and vegetables.
  • Many Americans also suffer from calcium deficiency, which suggests insufficient consumption of milk or milk products.
  • Many Americans are deficient in potassium. To meet the recommended potassium intake levels, potassium-rich foods should be selected whenever possible. Diet foods that are rich in potassium include: sweet potato, bananas, beet greens, spinach, white beans (canned), yogurt, carrot juice, halibut, cod, soybeans, tuna, winter squash and tomato juice.
  • Many Americans may need to eat more foods rich in vitamin E. Diet foods that are rich in vitamin E include: fortified ready-to-eat cereals, sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, turnip greens, peanut butter, wheat germ, avocado, spinach, sardines and Brazil nuts.

Avoid Diet Foods High in Calories, Saturated and Trans Fats

Americans typically eat too many calories and, at the same time, too much saturated and trans fats. Cheese and beef are the main diet foods which contribute to excessive intakes of saturated fat, while cakes, cookies, crackers, pies, bread, animal products and margarine are largely responsible for the high intake of trans-fats. Eggs, while high in dietary cholesterol, are now regarded as a healthy nutritious food.

Restrict Added Sugars and Choose Diet Foods Low in Sodium

Americans consume foods and drinks with too much added sugar (eg. regular sodas, frosted cereals, cakes, confectionery), and too much sodium from foods like salt, soy sauce, canned soups and stock or bouillon cubes and powders.

Two Eating Plans Containing Healthy Diet Foods

The latest Dietary Guidelines For Americans recommend two eating plans: the USDA Food Guide and the DASH Eating Plan. In contrast to the way that most Americans eat, these diet plans include:

  • More dark green vegetables, orange vegetables, legumes, fruits, whole grains, and low-fat milk and milk products.
  • Less refined grains, total fats (especially cholesterol, and saturated and trans fats), added sugars, and calories.

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