Swing into Spring with a Nutritious Diet
By: Kristin Shives
TRICARE Management Activity
March is the beginning of a new season, and the start of National Nutrition Month. With nutrition such an essential part in staying healthy, TRICARE beneficiaries can spring into a healthier life starting with a more nutritious diet this month.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, published by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture, say a healthy diet should include plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk products, lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts. The guidelines also recommend Americans choose foods with low saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt and added sugars. Dietary fats are needed, but should be limited to 20 to 30 percent of the amount of calories consumed, with no more than 10 percent of total calories from saturated fat. Read the nutrition label to find out the amount and types of fats in foods.
Many fruits and vegetables contain vitamins, minerals and fiber that may help prevent the development of chronic diseases including stroke, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Think color when picking fruits and veggies to add to a diet. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) list several examples of fruits and vegetables that have a wide range of valuable nutrients; green spinach, orange sweet potatoes, black beans, yellow corn, purple plums, red watermelon and white onions. Beneficiaries can find the daily amount of fruits and vegetables needed at www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov.
Balancing food choices is vital for the body to get all its needed nutrients and should include fiber, potassium, and vitamins A and C. Fiber can help decrease the risk of coronary artery disease. Potassium helps keep blood pressure at a healthy level. Vitamin A keeps eyes and skin healthy plus boosts the immune system. Vitamin C helps bones, teeth and gums remain healthy and aids in the healing process.
Beneficiaries looking for a healthy eating plan can visit myplate.gov. The site offers information on how many calories are needed daily, how much food equals a portion and how to make healthy choices in each food group.
Nutrition and exercise affect the overall health for today, tomorrow and the future. Eat fewer calories, make informed food choices and be physically active: these steps can help TRICARE beneficiaries maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of chronic disease and achieve overall health. For more information on how to live healthy visit www.tricare.mil/livewell.