Nutrition

Naturally Nutritious

A Healthy Diet Can Help You Get All The Necessary Nutrients

At the end of a day, do you sometimes wonder whether you've eaten enough of the types of foods that help you stay healthy?

Are there times when you wonder whether there are certain foods that can provide you with the vitamins and minerals you need?

The good news is that if you build your diet around fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains, chances are your body will get all the nutrients it needs, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research.

These types of foods contain a broad array of naturally occurring substances, such as fiber, phytochemicals and antioxidants. Together they provide the body with the tools it needs for such essential work as:

  • Maintaining the immune system.
  • Cell repair.
  • Prevention of chronic diseases, such as heart diseases

In addition, many of these foods have little or no fat, sodium or cholesterol, and most are considered nutrient-dense foods as well. That means they have lots of nutrients with relatively few calories, so you can eat more, have less worry of weight gain and still get the nutrition you need.

Good choices

Here are just a few of the vitamins and minerals crucial to good health:

  • Calcium is needed for healthy bones and teeth and for nerve and muscle function. Low-fat dairy products, such as milk and cheese, are good sources. And in the fruit and vegetable world, spinach, edamame (a type of soybean), collard greens and kale are great calcium-rich options.
  • Potassium may help keep blood pressure at a healthy level. Some potassium-packed foods include sweet potatoes, tomatoes, lima beans, white beans and bananas.
  • Iron is needed for healthy blood cells, and it can help in the proper function of all cells in the body. You'll find iron aplenty in lentils, spinach, soybeans, kidney beans and chickpeas.
  • Folate is especially important for women who may become pregnant, as it helps prevent brain and spinal cord defects in newborns. Asparagus, broccoli, lentils, strawberries, pinto beans and white beans are all first-rate sources of folate.
  • Vitamin C helps heal wounds and cuts and helps keep teeth and gums healthy. Get this vital vitamin from foods like kiwi fruit, bell peppers, green cabbage, cantaloupe, oranges, strawberries and apricots.

Should you supplement?

For some groups of people, such as strict vegetarians and pregnant women, nutritional supplements are recommended in order to provide a guaranteed intake of certain vitamins and minerals. Illnesses, food allergies and food intolerances can also make it difficult for people to get all the nutrients they need, so supplements may also be advised in these instances.

Speak to your primary care provider or a dietitian to find out whether you are getting enough nutrients from your diet or whether you should be taking a supplement.

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