The Facts About Nutrition
Here's how to get the vitamins and minerals you need.
Good nutrition is much more than something to fill your stomach -- what you
eat can affect your health, energy, and well-being in so many ways.
The most important feature of a good diet is variety. We all know variety is
the spice of life, but did you realize that unless you eat a wide variety of
foods, you may be missing out on important vitamins, minerals, and other
nutrients? Eating the right mix of vitamins and minerals will help you feel and
look your best at any age.
To make sure your eating plan contains all the nutrients you need, choose a
rainbow of colorful foods. The pigments that give foods their color are also
the nutritious substances that can reduce your risk of cancer and chronic
diseases like heart disease.
Of course, foods with the most "pigment power" are mostly fruits and
vegetables -- yet another reason to fill your plate with these fiber-filled,
low-calorie, fat-free, super foods! Eaten together, fruits and vegetables pack
an even bigger punch in reducing free radicals -- unstable molecules in the
body that damage cells and are thought to contribute to the development of many
Vitamins in the News
The hottest vitamins these days are the antioxidants (E, C, and A, along
with the mineral selenium) and the "sunshine" vitamin, also known as
Antioxidants help gobble up those nasty free radicals. A diet rich in
antioxidants has been linked to a host of health-promoting, disease-fighting
activities in the body.
Antioxidant-rich foods include:
- Vitamin A and beta-carotene: Pumpkin, squash, carrots, spinach, sweet
potatoes, cantaloupes, dark leafy greens, and mangoes
- Vitamin C: Citrus fruits, strawberries, bell peppers, cauliflower,
broccoli, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, asparagus
- Vitamin E: Vegetable oil, almonds, whole grains, wheat germ, sweet
- Selenium: Salmon, haddock
Vitamin D has been in the news lately as studies have shown that people
living in northern latitudes (such as much of the northern U.S.) may not get
enough of this nutrient. Without adequate vitamin D, your body can't properly
absorb calcium, leading to a higher risk of broken bones -- especially in the
elderly. A recent Swiss study suggests that elderly folks may be able to reduce
their risk of injury from falls with vitamin D supplementation.
The best source of this nutrient is sunshine. Other good sources
- Fortified milk and some orange juices. Juice manufacturers are now adding
both calcium and vitamin D for better absorption.
- Salmon and mackerel
The Calcium Connection
Calcium is the sweetheart of minerals these days because of its weight-loss
power. Research has shown that foods rich in calcium and protein can enhance
weight loss by revving up your metabolism.
Calcium is also the super-nutrient for keeping bones and teeth strong and
preventing osteoporosis. The best sources of calcium are dairy foods, though
it's also found in:
- Dark leafy greens
- Fortified products like cereal and orange juice