Eat more fruits and vegetables. Cut back on salt, saturated fat, and sugar. Switch to whole grains. Many people know all that and more. But how do you translate those broad strokes into the dozens of diet decisions you make every day? Here are 10 of our favorite tips to get 2018 started.
What to Do in Your Kitchen
1. Cover Half Your Plate with Vegetables or Fruit
Forget the “side” of veggies. They should occupy more plate real estate than your protein or pasta, rice, or potatoes. The OmniHeart diets—one of the healthiest diets you can eat—have 11 servings of fruit and vegetables a day. A serving is one piece of fruit, a half cup of cooked vegetables, or one cup of raw vegetable (like lettuce), so it’s not that much. Your main-dish salad could easily be four servings.
2. Add Veggies to Boost Potassium and Lower Salt
Mix a bagged salad kit with a bag of undressed lettuce. Add a pound of steamed broccoli or other veggie to your favorite Chinese or Thai take-out. Add a bed of baby spinach or kale to frozen meals. That way, each mouthful ends up with more potassium and less salt. Or cut sodium in a prepared seasoned grain by mixing it with unseasoned bulgur, quick-cooking brown rice, or farro.
3. Replace Your Meat (or Starchy Side Dish) with Beans
They’re packed with fiber, protein, potassium, magnesium, folate, and iron. That helps explain why beans (and lentils) are so good for you. Beans lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, probably because they’re rich in the gummy, soluble type of fiber. Eating beans regularly also helps lower blood pressure, possibly because they’re a decent source of potassium. Bonus: they’re delicious. Start with one of these recipes from Kate Sherwood, The Healthy Cook.
4. Use Nuts Instead of Croutons
Nuts and seeds offer a little plant protein and plenty of heart-healthy polyunsaturated fat. So sprinkle them on salads instead of croutons (which are typically salty white-flour bread). Or add them to yogurt, cereal, fruit, and vegetable dishes.
5. Eat Plain Yogurt or Mix Plain with Sweetened Yogurt
Unsweetened yogurt provides the most nutrient bang for your calorie buck. For extra protein, try creamy low-fat plain greek yogurt. If plain is too tart for you, mix plain and sweetened. Or add peaches, bananas, berries, or other fruit.