The following guidelines are suggested for people who want to improve their diets. Many of the diseases that occur as we grow older such as heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, can be prevented or modified by a life-style that includes good nutrition and daily exercise.
Eat a variety of foods - The best way to assure a variety is to select foods each day from the Four Food Groups -- the Meat Group, the Milk Group, the Fruit and Vegetable Group, and the Bread Group. You will not need to take a vitamin or mineral supplement if you eat a wide variety of foods.
Maintain ideal body weight - Being overweight increases your chances of developing some chronic disorder, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease. If you need to lose weight, a reduction in calories and an increase in activity is recommended. Long-term success is achieved through a gradual change in life-style that includes better eating habits and regular exercise.
Avoid too much fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol - Diets that contain large amounts of fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol have been linked to a greater risk of heart disease. To decrease the amount of fat you eat, avoid fried foods, fatty meats, whole milk, and whole milk dairy products, and limit the use of butter, cream, gravies, and shortenings. Use instead lean meats, fish, poultry, and low-fat milk and dairy products. Decrease your cholesterol intake by limiting eggs and organ meats (such as liver) to 3-4 times a week.
Eat more complex carbohydrate foods and fiber - Complex carbohydrates and fiber are found in vegetables, grains, and fruits. Increase the use of foods such as whole grain cereals and breads, as well as a variety of fruits and vegetables.
Avoid excess sugar - Limit sugar of all kinds (white, brown, honey) and high sugary foods such as jelly, syrup, candy, gum, cookies, cake, doughnuts, sweetened beverages, sugary cereals, and ice cream.
Avoid excess salt - Cut back on the amount of table salt you use. Use other salt-free spices and herbs instead. Limit the amount of salty foods eaten: pretzels, chips, nuts, canned soups, luncheon meats, hot dogs, pickles, and soy sauce.
For additional guidelines for a healthy diet so you can eat right and eat healthy, go to Choose My Plate.