VA Caribbean Healthcare System
Unlock the Power of Healthy Eating
Your diet is key to your health! You may know that you should eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, but how much is enough? Which foods are best? What is 8 whole grain, anyway?
Know your food to crack the code!
Fruits and vegetables: Aim for 5-9 servings of fresh, canned or frozen fruits and vegetables per day. Try to avoid fruit with added sugar or syrups and vegetables prepared with butler, salt or creamy sauces.
Mix it up! Vary the colors, textures and flavors of your fruit and veggies. Help yourself to:
• Dark greens (spinach, broccoli, kale)
• Oranges (carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, peppers)
• Purples (beets, eggplants)
• Legumes (lentils, split peas, pinto, kidney and black beans)
• Starchy vegetables (potatoes, corn)
Whole grains: Whole grain means all parts of the grain seed are intact. Grains are more nutritious this way. Whole grains Include whole wheat, brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, whole oats or oatmeal, bulgur, whole rye, sorghum, whole grain, barley, and wild rice.
Aim for 3 ounces of whole grain per day. One ounce is about 1 slice of bread, 1 cup of breakfast cereal, or ½ cup of cooked pasta.
To see if a food is whole grain, check the ingredients list. A whole grain should be the first ingredient on the list.
Dairy, meat and protein: Aim for 3 cups of fat-free or low-cal milk products per day.
Choose lean meats and poultry. When buying beef, aim for round steaks and roasts and avoid "prime” cuts. Look for the least visible fat and buy extra-lean ground beef (93% or 95%).
Eat at least one 8-ounce serving of seafood per week. You can choose fish (salmon, tuna, tilapia, trout) or shellfish (shrimp, crab, oysters). Fish is good for your heart!
Try for one meatless main dish per week. You can try meals made with beans or peas, such as split pea soup, chili made with kidney or pinto beans, a salad with garbanzo beans, black bean enchiladas, or veggie burgers.
For a protein-filled snack, have a handful of nuts. They are also great in entrees: pine nuts in pesto, slivered almonds on steamed vegetables or peanuts in a stir-fry.
Salt, fat and alcohol: Moderation is key.
Salt: Aim for 1 teaspoon or less per day. Choose products with no added salt and use It sparingly when you prepare food at home. Season food with fresh spices and herbs Instead. People with high blood pressure should eat no more than 1/2 teaspoon of salt per day.
Fat: Choose lean, skinless cuts of meat and prepare without adding fat. Try baking, broiling, roasting, steaming or poaching meat to preserve flavor. Look for foods low in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol. Choose heart healthy fats, such as those found in nuts, fish, and vegetable oils.
Alcohol: Limit yourself to one alcoholic drink per day if you are female and two if you are male. Remember, alcohol adds calories to your diet - with no nutrients!