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An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away Part 2

Fresh VegetablesLast week we looked at some things to avoid when attempting to make healthy food choices. This week we are going to look at foods you need in your diet to enhance your overall health and well-being.

Everyone knows the importance of eating fruits and vegetables—though some people cannot tolerate too much fruit or fruits with high sugar content. Truth be told, most of us probably overestimate the amount (and quality) of these types of foods we actually eat. Even vegetarians can have this issue. Just because you’re not eating meat does not necessarily mean you’re getting enough greens. And not all vegetables are created equal. A can of cooked, processed green beans is not going to provide the nutrients you would get from beans you pick up fresh from the farmers market and steam yourself. When making vegetable choices, try to purchase local, fresh products whenever possible and look for those that are processed the least (flash frozen is better than canned). Then try to get at least one vegetable at every meal. Keep them cut up and stored in your refrigerator in a sealed container with some ice cubes to keep them crisp and fresh. When making your morning breakfast shake, add some fresh greens. They won’t really affect the flavor, and you’ll be starting your day with raw greens. Don’t like vegetables? You’re probably not getting enough variety to entertain your palette. Try choosing vegetables you don’t normally eat, and make sure you season them with herbs and spices and a little bit of healthy fat to really bring out the flavor.

And speaking of fat, last week we looked at the danger of hydrogenated oils, but that doesn’t mean you should stay away from all fats. Everyone needs some fat in their diets, and those of us who are watching our weight tend to shy away from fats because of their high calorie content. But the right kinds of fats are good for you and good for weight control. They enhance the flavor and aroma of foods and help you to feel satisfied. The best oils are non-hydrogenated and cold-pressed from nuts, seeds, and olives. But you should also make room in your diet for some real butter—yes, real butter! Nothing can beat its flavor, and it contains important nutrients like vitamin A. You might consider mixing butter and oil together to create a flavorful, high nutrient fat.

Last, but not least, is protein. There is plenty of debate about what kind of protein we should be eating—livestock, fish, vegetable, soy, dairy—and about how much protein is optimum for weight loss and maintenance, but the important thing is be sure you’re getting some quality protein in your diet. The average person needs 2 to 3 servings of protein-rich foods per day—about 46 grams of protein for women and 56 grams of protein for men. For perspective, a 3- ounce piece of meat has about 21 grams of protein, an 8-ounce container of yogurt has about 11 grams of protein, and one cup of cooked kidney beans has about 15 grams of protein. Remember, you are looking for quality protein from a quality source. The average protein bar is not a quality source because it is loaded with sugar and processed flour. One way to overcome this problem is to make your own! There are some really good recipes out there that will give you the opportunity to make bars that you and your family really like. Then you can have a convenient quality protein source available to you when you’re on the go.

As always, for more information about healthy food choices, you can trust the professionals at Hillcrest Medical. At Hillcrest Medical, we’re not just the best place for urgent care in Dallas, we’re also the best place for all your family’s every day health care needs.

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