The United States Department of Agriculture identifies five food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, meats and legumes, and milk. The following information will guide you to making more healthy choices when consuming foods from these five food groups:
Choose fresh fruits often while emphasizing citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, limes, tangerines, etc.) and yellow-orange fruits (like cantaloupe and peaches). Frozen, canned or dried fruits without added sugar are good alternatives to fresh fruits. Be very careful of fruit juices. There are a lot of calories associated with consuming fruit juices and the fiber content found in fresh fruits is missing from the vast majority of fruit juices. In fact, fruit juice consumption should be restricted if attempting to lose weight. Finally, if you or your children must have fruit juice, make sure the label reads 100 percent fruit juice. Avoid sweetened fruit “drinks” or “-ades.”
Follow the “eat five a day” campaign when consuming vegetables. Eat from the full spectrum of colors and subgroups when it comes to vegetables including dark green (spinach, broccoli, leafy greens), orange and deep yellow (carrots, sweet potatoes), legumes (pinto beans, black beans), starchy (corn, green beans) and others like tomatoes, beets, cucumbers, etc. Canned and frozen vegetables without added salts are also acceptable.
When shopping for grains, you will encounter grains that are refined (low in nutrients), enriched (same as refined with some nutrients added back in), and whole grain. Your best choice is whole grain which is rich in fiber and all the nutrients found in the original plant. Whole grain products should account for at least 50 percent of all grains consumed daily. To determine if a food product is whole grain, the term “whole grain” must be listed first on the food label ingredient list. Products that list multigrain, stone-ground, whole wheat or 100 percent wheat are typically not whole grain. The greater the fiber content, the more healthy the choice. The above information is also appropriate when it comes to selecting your child's breakfast cereal.
When shopping for meats, choose poultry, fish and lean cuts of beef or pork named “round” or “loin.” Consume fried and breaded fish and chicken on an occasional basis only. Legumes (garbanzo beans, lentils, pinto beans, split peas) are an excellent source of both protein and fiber.
Select skim, non-fat or low-fat dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt. Non-fat milk products contain all of the same healthful nutrients as regular milk. It is only the fat that is missing.
If this is too much information to digest (pun intended), just remember the following:
Consume more dark green vegetables, orange vegetables, legumes, fruits, whole grains and low-fat milk/dairy products while eating less refined grains and foods with added sugar, saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol and total calories.
There is still time to begin training for the “Get Moving Tucumcari” fun run and walk. The three-mile, non-competitive walk and/or run will be held on Saturday, October 2, 2010 at Kvols Park. Join the “Get Moving Tucumcari” campaign now and start taking steps to better health.
• Registration is $5 and includes this monthly newsletter, a pedometer to keep track of your walking steps and a simple-to-follow training program.
• Contact Brenda Bishop at 461-0562 or drop by the Extension Office located in the Terry Turner Building, 216 E. Center Street.
Tom Morris is the health and wellness facility coordinator at Mesalands Community College. Contact him at: email@example.com