We often read about eating a “healthy diet,” but no one ever seems to qualify the phrase; it’s overused and ambiguous without an explanation.
So, what comprises a “healthy diet?” Here’s the answer, according to the American Heart Association:
- Fruit & Vegetables: 4 ½ or more servings daily
- Fish: At least two, 3 ½-ounce servings weekly
- Fiber-Rich Whole Grains: Three or more 1-ounce servings daily
- Sodium: Less than 1,500 mg daily
- Sugar-Sweetened Beverages: Less than 36-ounces daily
To say you have a “good diet,” you’d need to meet four of the above criteria. Not surprisingly, 92% of American children ages five through nineteen don’t meet any of the above requirements.
“If we reach people in middle age and even younger with these messages, we could change American health for the better for decades to come,” said Lloyd-Jones, chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine and associate professor of Preventive Medicine and Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.
To eat a “healthy diet,” simple strategies are all that’s needed. Make access to fruit and vegetables easy: keep whole fruit on your desk or in a bowl on the kitchen counter; encourage low-sodium snacking, stocking up on munchies that are baked or popped, not fried and salted; take a trip to the fish counter each time you grocery shop, and opt-out of buying sugary drinks.
Clearly, eating better isn’t an insurmountable task. Any effort taken to achieve the AHA goals will lead to more positive and robust health outcomes.
What steps are you taking?