12-week wellness program

10 Secrets to Cooking Healthier

Easy ways to make your everyday meals healthier and tastier.

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Most of us would benefit from following this simple rule: Eat more vegetables, fruits and whole grains, and less of just about everything else. That’s a great general rule to follow, but if you’re looking for a little more guidance, our 10 secrets for cooking healthier can get you started.

Use smart fats. Not all fat is bad. Opt for unsaturated (e.g., olive oil) over saturated fats, such as butter. But still use them in moderation because all fats are loaded with calories.

Be unrefined. Pick whole grains over refined grains. Whole grains like brown rice and bulgur have more good-for-you fiber, vitamins and nutrients.

Eat more fruits and vegetables. Most people don’t get enough! Aim for 4 to 13 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Pick produce in a variety of colors to get a range of antioxidants and vitamins. A serving size is 1/2 to 1 cup, depending on the fruit or vegetable.

It’s not all about the meat. Meat provides great protein, but it’s also a big source of saturated fat in many people’s diets. Eat small amounts of lean meat, fish and poultry. Fill up the rest of your plate with healthy vegetables and whole grains.

Choose low-fat dairy. Dairy products like milk, sour cream and yogurt are a good source of calcium. Replacing whole-milk dairy products with low-fat or nonfat is an easy way to cut saturated fat in your diet.

Keep portions reasonable. Healthy eating is all about balancing the number of calories you eat with your daily activity. One of the easiest ways to manage calorie intake is by eating healthy portions.

Go easy on sweeteners. Sugars of any kind, whether corn syrup, white sugar, brown sugar, honey or maple syrup, add significant calories and carbohydrate without any nutritive value.

Keep an eye on sodium. Whether you have high blood pressure or not, it’s wise to watch your sodium intake. The USDA’s dietary guidelines for Americans recommend that people with type 2 diabetes consume 1,500 mg or less of sodium daily.

Go for the healthy flavor. Enhance food with bold flavors from healthy ingredients like fresh herbs, spices and citrus. When your food has great flavor, you’re less likely to reach for the salt.

Be mindful and enjoy. Make conscious food decisions rather than grabbing what is most convenient. Make sure it is something delicious and savor it. When you enjoy what you eat, you feel satisfied.

By EatingWell.com. © Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
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