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Why Mom Was Right About Healthy Diets

Mom was right about healthy diets

We probably all have our favorite Mom stories with her telling us to eat right. She may have pressured you to eat all your vegetables. You may have spent more than one evening still seated at the dinner table until you ate all your food. It turns out that Mom knew what she was talking about the whole time.

Why Mom Was Right About Healthy Diets

Vegetables and Your Health

If you don’t get enough vegetables in your diet, you’re not alone. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, less than 20 percent manage to get enough. The recommended amount of servings is four to five servings per day, based on a 2,000-calorie diet. A half cup of raw or cooked veggies counts as one serving.

Why Does It Matter?

Vegetables are an excellent source of nutrients and fiber, especially if you eat a variety of them. Many of the vitamins that they contain are water-soluble. That means that your body doesn’t store the extra amounts you consume. Remember, that recommendation means every day. If you’re not eating enough vegetables, you’re missing out on their nutritional value.

That’s a problem with some nutrients where vegetables are the richest sources. For example, red peppers beat out orange juice for the highest amount of vitamin C per serving. And dark greens provide lots of folate and vitamin K. The latter is essential for proper blood clotting. When Mom made you finish your spinach, she was right.

Increasing Your Intake

There are several ways you can sneak some extra servings into your daily diet. You don’t have to sit in front of a bowl of steamed vegetables—that is, unless you want to do it. You can do simple things like have a salad with a meal. One cup of lettuce counts as one serving. You can add it recipes like meatloaf or a marinara sauce.

And speaking of pasta, you can cut back a bit on the penne and put in more vegetables. Besides, it’ll make the dish look better too with all those pretty colors. Remember, eating also has a visible component to it too.

Whole Grains and Your Health

While we started with Wonder Bread at our house, my mom soon switched us to whole grain breads instead. The same problem exists in the American diet with these foods too. Less than 60 percent get the recommended servings. Instead of wheat and oats, more people are opting for cookies and cakes. You should aim for six to eight servings a day. A slice of bread counts as one.

Why Does It Matter?

Getting enough whole grains in your diet offers several significant health benefits. Unlike white bread, these foods are complex carbs. That means that they won’t cause a spike in your blood sugar. Instead, your body will need time to digest them. Your glucose levels will stay stable. You also stay fuller, longer. That’s a good thing for keeping your weight in check. But it doesn’t stop there.

The fiber that whole grains contain packs more health benefits. It can help you lower your cholesterol. When you eat whole grains, cholesterol in your body hitches a ride on the waste products of its digestion. That can, in turn, lower your risk of a heart attack or stroke. Boy, Mom sure was smart.

Increasing Your Intake

These dietary changes will require some conscious effort. It’s just a matter of making a sideways move. Instead of white bread, go for the whole grain ones instead. Swap out the white rice for brown rice or quinoa. Make a bowl of popcorn in place of that bag of potato chips, easy on the salt and butter, of course.

Also, reduce the amount of refined grain products that you eat. Choose a slice of bread rather than that buttery croissant with your meal. Don’t forget those sugary desserts. It begins with baby steps.

Dairy Products and Your Health

Your mom probably said to you at some point that you should drink your milk. Score another one for her. The current American diet fails when it comes to dairy too. Less than 20 percent of people get enough daily servings. You should get two to three servings a day. Dairy is a bit trickier because of the fat content.

Why Does It Matter?

Dairy products are loaded with nutrients, especially calcium. An eight-ounce serving of plain, low-fat yogurt provides 42 percent of the recommended daily amount. This nutrient is essential for good bone health and prevention of osteoporosis. It also reduces your risk of fractures by maintaining a high bone density.

It’s impossible to overstate the importance of calcium. It is a driving factor for heart, nerve, and muscle function. It’s so vital that if your diet is lacking, your body will go to the places where it is stored, namely, your bones and teeth.

Increasing Your Intake

You can boost the amount of dairy products you consume simply by adding some fat-free or low-fat milk to a meal. Instead of half and half in your coffee, add milk. An easy way is to have yogurt for a snack in place of those cookies. Don’t forget about cooking. You can swap out other ingredients like mayonnaise for homemade salad dressings or dips.

Mom’s Best Lesson

Perhaps the best thing that Mom taught us was to sit down for a family meal. A home-cooked meal often has fewer calories and less fat than carry out or fast food. It will certainly have less sodium too. Processed foods are the main source in the typical American diet. The salt you sprinkle on your dinner is not a factor. Over 80 percent of Americans get too much sodium in their diet which can increase your risk of heart disease.

Eating a healthy diet isn’t rocket science. Mom had it figured out long ago. It’s simply a matter of eating the foods she encouraged you to consume as a child. Eat your vegetables. Have a sandwich. Drink your milk. And have more meals together at home.

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