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Essentials of Healthy Eating
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, a
healthy diet as one that Emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole
grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products; includes
lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts; and is low in
saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added
sugars. But just what minerals and nutrients are vital to our
health and well-being? Consider these nutrient-dense foods when
you're looking to improve your vitamin and mineral intake.
Vitamin A is needed for good eyesight and optimal functioning of
the immune system. Cod liver oil, dairy products, sweet potatoes
and dark green leafy vegetables are all great natural food sources
of vitamin A.
Vitamin B1, also known as thiamin, is imperative to the body's
ability to process carbohydrates. Whole grain breads, cereals and
pastas have high amounts of thiamin.
Riboflavin, or B2, can be found in fortified cereals, almonds,
asparagus, eggs, and meat. It's used in many body processes,
including converting food into energy and the production of red
Niacin, also known as B3, can be found in lean chicken, tuna,
salmon, turkey, enriched flour, peanuts, and fortified cereals. It
aids in digestion and also plays a key role in converting food
Vitamin B6 can be found in fortified cereals, fortified
soy-based meat substitutes, baked potatoes with skin, bananas,
light-meat chicken and turkey, eggs, and spinach. It's vital for a
healthy nervous system, and helps break down proteins and stored
Vitamin B12 is needed for creating red blood cells, and can be
found in beef, clams, mussels, crabs, salmon, poultry, and
Citrus fruits, red berries, tomatoes, potatoes, broccoli,
cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, red and green bell peppers,
cabbage, and spinach are all loaded with vitamin C, which is vital
to promoting a healthy immune system, and making chemical
messengers in the brain.
Vitamin D can be found in fortified milk, cheese, and cereals;
egg yolks; salmon; but can also be made by the body from sunlight
exposure. It's needed to process calcium and maintain the health
of bones and teeth.
Vitamin E functions as an antioxidant and is essential to your
skin's good health. Eat plenty of leafy green vegetables, almonds,
hazelnuts, and vegetable oils like sunflower, canola, and soybean
to get this vital nutrient.
Folic acid can be found in fortified cereals and grain
products; lima, lentil, and garbanzo beans; and dark leafy
vegetables. It's vital for cell development, prevents birth
defects, promotes heart health, and helps red blood cells form.
Pregnant women need to take special care to ensure they are
getting enough of this for themselves and their developing baby.
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Other Essential Nutrients