Add the best foods – Trinidad News

MAINTAINING health is important and everyone can participate by making the best decisions that can more than likely benefit their family and community by extension. These choices can include taking some time during the day to relax, ensuring better financial management and also engaging in physical activities such as brisk walking, aerobics, jogging, cycling and football. Choosing to adopt a healthy lifestyle and also opting for nutritious foods that are low in fat, sugar and salt but moderate to high in dietary fibre and nutrient dense, are some healthy choice you may wish to add to your daily plan.

You will find that by incorporating vegetables, fruits, whole grains and products, nuts, seeds and beans, ground provision, and starchy fruits such as breadfruit as well as foods that contain fats such as avocado, peanut butter, coconut, and also coconut, olive and soya bean oils, mayonnaise, along with lean meats, fish, eggs, milk and milk products and poultry to the diet can provide great benefits. These foods not only belong to the various groups, but contain vitamins, minerals, protein, and other essential nutrients needed in maintaining nutritional status over a period. Today’s article will focus on adding nutritious foods to the menu.

A look at nutrient density When making food choices, choose foods that are nutrient dense to add to your meal plan.

Nutrient-dense foods can be described as those which contain vitamins and minerals, protein, carbohydrate and fat that are nourishing substances which aid in maintaining health. You should note that in general the concept nutrient density is the concentration of nutrients per amount of food or caloric contribution of the food. This excludes refined and processed foods which tend to be high in fat, sugar, and salt.

As the meal manager, note that the Caribbean Food Groups should be utilised in planning balanced meals, and some examples of these foods listed earlier belong to various food groups for example staples, legumes, fruits, vegetables, foods from animals, and fats and oils. Therefore, the locally-grown produce from kitchen gardens and farms are just as nutritious when compared to foreign produce, and can aid you in meeting your daily nutritional requirements. In addition, people may also use the foodbased dietary guidelines to assist them in making wise food choice.

Helping communities Generally, dietary guideline which are designed to aid persons in choosing healthy foods, and promote participation in physical activity. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization (2017), the food-based dietary guidelines are intended “to establish the foundation for public food and nutrition, health and agricultural policies, and nutrition education which will help to encourage healthy eating habits and lifestyle. Also, they provide advice on food, food groups, and dietary patterns that will provide the required nutrients to maintain health and prevent diseases.” Among various countries, dietary guidelines are adapted to their nutrition situation, food availability, cultural and dietary practices. Examples of food-based dietary guidelines for several countries include Latin America and the Caribbean such as Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bahamas, Belize, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, Argentina, Brazil, Guyana and Cuba, just to list a few. For North America, you should note the following – Canada (official name – Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide), and the United States (official name – 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans).

In a brief overview, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) 2015-2020 (US Department of Health and Human Services and US Department of Agriculture, 2015) emphasised the following:

Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan – this indicates that your food and beverage choices are important. Therefore, people are encouraged to choose a healthy eating pattern with an appropriate calorie level which can aid in weight management, support nutrient adequacy, and reduce your potential risk for chronic diseases. Moreover, for a brief description of the healthy eating pattern, the DGA 2015-2020 stated that a healthy eating pattern includes a variety of vegetables from all subgroups – dark green, red and orange, legumes (peas and beans), starchy and other; fruits -mainly whole fruits; grains, half of which should be whole grains; along with fat-free or low-fat dairy such as milk, yogurt, cheese, and/ or fortified soy milk; a variety of protein foods such as lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, legumes and nuts, seeds and soy products; and oils. But, saturated fats, trans fats, added sugars and sodium are limited; Focus on variety, nutrient density and amount – the diet should consist of a variety of foods that are nutrient dense from the different food groups; be sure to consume the recommended amounts.

Limit calories from added sugars, saturated fats and reduce sodium intake – this encourages individuals to watch their fat, sugar and salt intake. Choose foods and beverages lower in these components which can fit into a healthy eating pattern.

Shift to healthier food and beverage choices – aim to select the healthier options versus foods that are less healthy; and Support healthy eating patterns for all – this simply implies that many people may benefit from a supportive network or buddy system at home, school or work, encouraging them to make healthy food choices.

Claudette Mitchell, PhD, RD – Assistant Professor, University of the Southern Caribbean, School of Science, Technology, and Allied Health

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