The 5 Healthiest Foods You Should Be Eating

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According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there has been a dramatic increase in chronic diseases and other health problems worldwide. In fact, WHO projects that by 2020 chronic diseases will account for almost three-quarters of all deaths worldwide. Therefore, a greater emphasis has been placed on practicing healthier lifestyle habits, such as choosing more nutritious foods, getting daily exercise, and managing stress. There are lots of healthy food choices available, but these 5 healthiest foods will get you off to a great start on your health journey.

Vegetables:  You probably remember your parents saying, “eat your veggies!” Well, your parents were right. Vegetables contain a plethora оf vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients аnd dietary fibers, whісh offer numerous health benefits. Experts recommend аt lеаѕt five servings оf vegetables every day to keep our immune system strong, so we can have a better chance at keeping illnesses and diseases at bay. All vegetables are excellent for your health. Spinach, for example, is chock full of calcium, vitamin A аnd C, magnesium, riboflavin, and iron, giving your skin and hair a nice, healthy glow. Steamed broccoli is another nutrient-rich veggie that provides lots of potassium, fiber, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, iron, zinc and so much more. Eating plenty of leafy greens, such as kale, spinach, arugula and collard greens, is especially advantageous because they are nutritional powerhouses filled with chlorophyll, phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals. They are most nutritious when lightly steamed or raw.

Fruits:  Studies have found thаt people whо eat fruits regularly are less likely to develop diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and heart disease. Amоng thе different types оf fruits, thе two healthiest fruits that you should include in your diet аrе berries аnd citrus fruits. Berries, such as raspberries, strawberries аnd blueberries, аrе high іn disease- fighting antioxidants that help to protect our cells from free radical damage. Berries can help improve memory function, too. Citrus fruits, such as oranges, lemons, grapefruits and limes, provide a rich source of vitamin C, fiber, phytochemicals аnd flavonoids. Consumption оf thеѕе fruits may also lower cholesterol, high blood pressure, improve heart health, аnd may prevent thе development оf colon аnd stomach cancer. You don’t have to stick to just berries аnd citrus fruits either. Othеr fruits like red grapes, apples, apricots, plums, and papaya are also very beneficial to your health.

Whоle Grains:  Whоle grains include foods like oatmeal, millet, quinoa, barley and wild rice. Most whole grain foods are abundant in fiber, protein, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, and selenium, to name a few. Regular consumption of whole grains can help reduce your risk of colon cancer, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. The dietary fiber in whole grains will also help you feel full faster and longer, as well as help prevent constipation and aid digestion.

Nuts:  Anоthеr food having аn important place оn thіѕ list іѕ nuts. Nuts, еѕресіаllу almonds аnd walnuts, provide аn excellent source оf protein and omega-3 fatty acids. According to Mayo Clinic, people who eat nuts can lower their bad cholesterol, or LDL’s, thus improve overall heart health.   Thеу аlѕо possess vitamins B аnd E, monounsaturated fats, calcium, potassium аnd fiber. Try a handful of nuts as a between meal snack to help curb your appetite until the next meal.

Yogurt: Yogurt contains healthy bacteria, called probiotics, which can benefit your health by enhancing your digestive and immune system wellness. Yogurt is also rich in calcium and vitamin D, both essential for bone health. And, according to a study published in the January 2005 issue of the “International Journal of Obesity,” yogurt may speed weight loss because of its fat-burning properties and low-calorie content. Therefore, it’s important to choose low-fat, low-sugar yogurt to reap the health benefits without packing on the pounds. Eating yogurt may also help treat certain intestinal infections, irritable bowel syndrome, and diarrhea, especially after receiving antibiotic treatment, according to Mayo Clinic.



Calorie Deficit + Cardio + Strength Training = Weight-Loss

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If you’re like most of us, you would like to lose a few pounds. You’ve tried everything but you just can’t seem to drop those last 10 pounds, right? There is no magic pill and it’s not a big mystery why you can’t drop those last 10 pounds. Most people need to create a calorie deficit — burn more than you eat. Many fad diets are based on calorie restriction by limiting the types and amounts of food you eat. Dieting can help you lose weight initially, but in the long-run you will probably regain most of that weight-loss. Deprivation doesn’t last long and you will not be very happy if you have to continually deprive yourself of foods you love. The key to lasting weight-loss is to burn more calories than you consume and build muscle mass to increase your resting metabolism.

It’s pretty easy to gain one pound of fat but you have to burn 3,500 calories to lose it. You can lose 1 pound of fat each week by creating a calorie deficit of minus 500 calories each day. Your resting, or basal, metabolism is the amount of calories you burn just being alive. Lungs breathing, heart pumping blood, brain thinking, abdominal and spinal muscles holding your body upright, all burn calories. Your basil metabolism accounts for up to 75 percent of the calories you burn every day. Increasing your muscle mass by doing strength training exercises can increase your basal metabolic rate, so that you burn more calories when at rest. Muscle tissue also burns many more calories than other tissues in your body. Gain 1 pound of muscle and burn an extra 50 calories per day while resting. Gain 10 pounds of muscle and you will burn an extra 500 calories per day doing nothing at all.

For fast and lasting weight-loss, combine strength training with cardio. Do strength training 2 days each week and cardio 3 days each week. A typical week might be Monday, Wednesday and Friday doing cardio, and Tuesday and Thursday doing strength training. Cardio is any exercise that elevates your heart rate and makes you sweat. Running, jogging, bicycling, swimming and sports activities are good ways to get a cardio workout to burn fat. Strength training includes not only lifting weights and working out on cable and weight machines at the gym, but also includes bodyweight exercises, such as push-ups, crunches and planks.

Get Rid of Back Fat

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Fat can be deposited anywhere on your body. For many people, especially women, fat deposits on the back are a problem. Wearing a bra can cause back fat to bulge above and below the bra. A successful weight loss plan must include a low-fat, low-sugar, nutritious diet combined with regular exercise. It is almost impossible to “spot” train your body to lose fat in only one place, like the belly or the back. However, you can and should focus on exercises that burn fat while working specific muscle groups for a more lean and toned body. Start by being more active generally. Walk more, ride a bicycle, take the stairs instead of the elevator and adopt a healthier diet. Then try some exercises that target the muscles of the back to help reduce fat on your back.
Lower back extensions stretch the muscles of your lower back and help to strengthen your back muscles for better posture and balance. Lie on the floor on your stomach. Stretch your body out straight. Place your hands on the floor palms down beside your hips. Breathe in and lift your chest off the floor. Keep your face pointed toward the floor during the exercise. Lift your chest as high as possible and hold the position for 5 seconds. Relax and lower your chest back to the floor. Do 10 repetitions of this exercise. When you feel stronger, try lifting your legs and chest at the same time. 

The bridge exercise will stretch all the muscles of your back, your abdomen and your thighs. Lie on your back with your knees bent. Keep your feet flat on the floor and place your palms on the floor beside your hips. Breathe in and squeeze your abdominal muscles. Lift your hips toward the ceiling as far as you can. Keep your shoulders and hands on the floor. Hold the position for 5 seconds and then breathe out as your lower your body back to the floor. Do 10 repetitions. 

Making Sense of USDA Dietary Guidelines

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The dietary guidelines for Americans, as recommended by the USDA includes some important recommendations to eat more of some foods and to reduce consumption of salt, fat and sugars. The guidelines are not strict rules for eating, but recommendations about how to improve your health by making wise food choices. Because so many Americans do not eat a variety of foods, nutritional deficits in fiber, calcium, vitamin D and potassium are too low and a public health concern. Many Americans are over-weight, especially children. A balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, lean meats and fish, fiber from whole grains, beans and rice can help combat obesity and disease. The goal of dietary guidelines is to help Americans make wise food choices for improved health. 
The USDA recommends that Americans eat more plants. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains contain essential nutrients for a healthy body. Vegetables and fruits may help reduce the risk of chronic disease like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even some cancers. Vegetables and fruits contain important trace elements, such as magnesium, potassium, fiber, folates and vitamins. It is recommended that an adult eat at least 2 1/2 cups of vegetables and fruits every day. One way to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables in your diet is to trade chips and cookies for fresh fruits and vegetables. Snack on apples, pears and strawberries instead of popcorn or chips. Vegetable and fruit juices are another way to increase your daily intake. Make sure to read the label and buy only juices that are 100% fruit and vegetable juices without added sugar or salt. 
The USDA recommends that Americans cut back on refined grains like white bread, sugar, salt and solid fats. Processed foods are convenient, but they may not meet all your nutritional needs. The calorie-to-nutrient ratio in most processed foods is not balanced, meaning that the foods are high in calories with low nutritional value. Excess salt can contribute to high blood pressure, especially for a person who has a potassium deficiency. Processed foods, canned foods and ready-to-eat heat and serve meals often contain excess salt and added sugars. The USDA recommends limiting sodium to no more than 2,300 milligrams per day. Older people and those at risk for high blood pressure and diabetes should limit salt to about 1,500 milligrams per day. 

According to the USDA, solid fats and sugars account for as much as 35% of the average person’s daily caloric intake. One of the easiest ways to reduce the amount of solid fats and sugar in your diet is to avoid refined grain foods and to use vegetables oil and olive oil in place of fats like butter. Cutting back on fats, trans fats and sugars can also help reduce cholesterol levels. 
For more information and explanation of dietary guidelines, see:
United States Department of Agriculture, 2010 Dietary Guidelines