Keeping a healthy diet is an important part of managing chronic diseases like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or obesity. Your daily food choices can make a difference in how you feel and how much medicine you need. Often, a single group of foods can help manage many of your health concerns. With the following information on fruits, vegetables, and other food groups, you can make your choices work to your benefit.
Fruits are good sources of potassium for blood pressure and soluble fiber for cholesterol control. They provide carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, and they can be included in a diet for weight management or diabetes up to to two cups per day. The color of fruits is an indication of some of the phyto-chemicals or plant chemicals that acts as antioxidants and keep you healthy.
Vegetables can be helpful in managing your blood pressure. They are also a good sources of potassium. The goal intake of potassium is 4,000 milligrams per day. One-half cup of cooked spinach contains 420 milligrams and one-half cup of cooked lima beans provides 477 milligrams of potassium. By including one to two cups of vegetables in your daily meals, you can meet this goal.
In addition, vegetables contain soluble fiber and can help you manage cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber can lower cholesterol by three to five percent. Some good sources are lima beans, Brussels sprouts, okra, eggplant and broccoli. Vegetables do not contain any damaging saturated fats. Mostly containing water, they are very nutrient dense having many vitamins and minerals with very few calories, so eating vegetables can aid in weight management. Non-starchy vegetables are also low in carbohydrates and help fill you up without adding too many carbohydrates to your meal. For those with diabetes, this can help manage blood sugar levels.
Eating more beans and peas like pinto beans, lima beans, black beans, split peas and lentils has multiple health benefits. Beans and peas are a good source of protein without the cholesterol and saturated fat found in other proteins sources like beef, pork, poultry and some fish. Instead, they are rich sources of fiber, which can help lower cholesterol. Try adding them to soups, dips, salads or casseroles.
Whole grains such as whole wheat, oatmeal, bulgur and brown rice are good sources of fiber and contain important nutrients like selenium, potassium and magnesium. These nutrients are lost when grains are refined to become white flour and white rice. With that said, whole grains have the same amount of calories as their refined counterparts, so you still should be mindful of your intake of these grains. The whole grain versions will affect your weight and diabetes control in a similar way as refined grains. However, the whole grains may cause less of a rise in glucose than refined grains because of their fiber content.
Call us today at 443-444-4912 or visit our Nutrition Counseling page to learn more about our services at the Good Health Center.