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Friedrich column: How to eat right

Editor’s note: March is National Nutrition Month.By Liz Friedrich
For The Salisbury Post
The single best step people can take for their health is to increase their fruit and vegetable intake. Fruit and vegetables vary in nutrient content but as a rule are low in calories and loaded with nutrients and good sources of dietary fiber. Experts recommend that adults eat 4 1/2 cups of fruits and vegetables each day. To get a variety of nutrients, you should be sure to include dark green vegetables (3 cups each week), orange vegetables (2 cups each week), legumes (3 cups each week), starchy vegetables (3 cups each week) and other vegetables (6 1/2 cups each week). Studies show many Americans fall far short of those recommendations.
Fruits and vegetables can be purchased fresh, frozen, or canned. Use the type that fits into your budget and lifestyle. Canned vegetables can be high in sodium, but draining and rinsing them can help. If you replace higher-calorie choices with fruits and vegetables (for example strawberries for dessert instead of cake), you might just lose a few pounds without really trying.
Eat more whole grainsExperts say that adults should eat at least 3 servings of whole grains each day. Whole grains have many benefits, including preventing cancer and heart disease and helping with weight maintenance. Whole grains include whole wheat, whole oats/oatmeal, whole-grain corn, popcorn, brown rice, whole rye, whole-grain barley, wild rice, triticale, bulgar, millet, quinoa and sorgum. Suggested serving sizes are 1 slice of bread, 1 cup of breakfast cereal, or 1/2 cup of cooked rice, cereal, or pasta. Whole grains have more fiber and nutrients than their refined-counterparts like white bread, white rice, and pasta made with white flour. At first glance eating 3 servings may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. Your whole grain choices don’t need to be exotic, but they can be if you like! If you enjoy a sandwich with 2 slices of whole grain bread at lunch and some popcorn as an afternoon snack, you’ve had your 3 servings, On the other hand, experimenting with whole grains like barley, bulger and quinoa, can add variety to a ho-hum meal. Eat less meat
“Meat” includes chicken, beef, pork and seafood. Most meat is a good source of nutrients, especially protein, iron and zinc. If you choose not to eat meat, those nutrients can be easily obtained using meat substitutes like tofu and other soy foods, nuts and legumes.
Eating too much meat can add extra fat and calories to the diet, but low-fat cuts of meats can have a place in a healthy diet. To reduce the fat content of your diet, use lower fat versions of ground beef (85/15 or 93/7) and drain off the fat after cooking. Select lower-fat cuts of beef like sirloin instead of t-bone. Remove the skin from chicken and turkey before eating and enjoy meats, including chicken and seafood, baked or broiled rather than fried.
The average adult needs only about 5 1/2 ounces of meat each day. To put that into perspective, a small cooked hamburger is about 3 ounces and a large cooked chicken breast is often 4 ounces or more. One chicken wing is usually around one ounce. Many large steaks are 12-16 ounces ó enough to meet your meat quota for two to three days!
Nutrition experts suggest that Americans begin to change the way we look at a meal. Instead of making meat the focus, use it as a side dish. Fill 1/4 of your plate with meat and1/2 to 3/4 with vegetables. Your meal will be higher in many nutrients, lower in fat, and you’ll be well on your way to eating right.
Liz Friedrich, MPH, RD, LDN, is a nutrition and health promotion consultant. Contact her at ekf@carolina.rr.com.

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