5 diet staples for 2012

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Nichelle Trulove -- Eat healthy this year with these 5 diet staples.

January marks the start of a new year and a season for change. Every year thousands of people make resolutions to exercise, lose weight and eat healthier.

Although tips and tricks found in online blogs, magazines, talk shows and infomercials may seem convincing, what we learn from the food pyramid is the most simple and efficient way to obtain a healthy lifestyle.

Here are five simple ways based on the United States Drug Administration’s (USDA) food pyramid that ensure a healthy lifestyle, while also leaving a variety of foods to eat.

1) Fruits and Vegetables: According to the food pyramid, adults should consume three cups of vegetables and two cups of fruit each day. Vegetables can be eaten raw or cooked. Although fresh vegetable are preferred, canned vegetables are acceptable if they are low in sodium. It is important to note that some vegetables contain more nutrients than others, for example, spinach may be more beneficial than corn. However, as long as a variety of vegetables are consumed daily you are on your way to a healthier life. Fruit is also preferred fresh, however if you must eat canned on occasion, choose canned fruit with no sugar added and in a light syrup.

2) Lean protein: The average adult should consume six and a half ounces of protein daily. This includes poultry, fish, meat, eggs, beans and nuts. Fish is a great source of lean protein because it is low in fat. Poultry and meat can also be great sources of protein if lean cuts are used and it is cooked in a healthy manner. For instance, baking or grilling is a great way to eliminate extra grease and oils that may bring down its nutritional benefits. Non-refried beans are also low in fat, high in protein and are a good source of fiber that will help keep you feeling full.

3) Whole grains: Five to eight ounces of whole grains daily will help your body feeling its best. Whole grain food is full of vitamins and minerals which is essential for a healthy lifestyle. Oatmeal, brown rice and whole wheat bread are all good sources of whole grains. Finding whole grain foods can be tricky, some products are labeled wheat but do not contain whole grain. These products will not have as much nutritional value. Taking a few moments to read the ingredients is well worth your time.

4) Low-fat dairy: Consuming three cups of dairy on a daily basis will ensure your body receives protein, calcium, vitamin B12 and vitamin D. Low-fat dairy products, such as low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt and cottage cheese, cut calories and cholesterol while still leaving the beneficial vitamins in your daily regimen. Although tempting, foods such as low-fat ice cream should be avoided due to the large amounts of added sugar.

5) Water: The USADA suggests the average adult should consume eight cups of water each day. Being that our body is 70 percent water, drinking a good amount of water daily keeps us alive and well. Staying hydrated is also a great way to prevent headaches. Water helps in the transportation of nutrients from one place in our body to another allowing it to function properly. Replacing soda or even tea and fruit juice with water allows water to work as a toxin remover that helps keep your body fresh and clean.

Healthy living can begin by simply following these five simple guidelines. Ensuring that your body intakes all the foods and nutrients it needs to keep up and running will send you on your way to a happy, healthy 2012.

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