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Food is Good Medicine

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Plate divided into fruits, veggies, grains, proteins and dairy
Tuesday, March 19, 2013

“Let Food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, proclaimed a simple, yet profound idea that food could be used as a tool by the healer and that the wrong foods could make us ill.

Scientific evidence has long proven this concept to be true. Unfortunately, the temptations (and overeating) of soda, cake, candy, snack chips, chocolate and other high calorie foods often steer us towards serious health problems. Obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer are only a few illnesses linked to poor diet. Keeping your body in good health now is easier than trying to undo the damage later.

Make a Change

Teams of nutrition and medical experts at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have made it easy. The newest icon is a literal plate and glass that emphasizes the fruit, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy food groups. It supports the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and offers tools to help us maintain healthful habits.

Keep it Simple

  • Start with fruits and vegetables - a lot of them. Half of your meals should include these colorful goodies from nature. It's okay to eat them raw or cooked, fresh, canned or frozen. Just make sure you choose a variety of fruits and dark green, red and orange vegetables. Grains come in two types, whole and refined. At least half of the grains you eat should be whole. Look for whole-wheat and whole-grain breads, cereals, pastas, and crackers. Examples are whole-wheat bread, bran flakes, oatmeal and brown rice.
  • If you eat canned fruit, consider buying those in light syrup or in their own juice rather than heavy syrup. Also, watch for hidden salt (sodium) in canned vegetables. Buy those with no or low salt.
  • Milk still does a body good, especially when it’s fat-free or low fat. Calcium-containing milk products such as nonfat and low-fat cheeses and yogurt also count. Butter and sour cream aren’t on the list.
  • Protein in meats, poultry, fish, legumes (beans and peas), eggs and tofu, for example, are also essential.  The USDA says that most adults get more than enough protein, without trying. The recommended amount is 10–35% of daily calories. This is why only one fourth of the “MyPlate” icon is for protein foods. It’s also advised to have a few servings of fish per week.
  • Other things to consume in moderation include healthy fats from nuts, avocados, olives and olive oil.
  • Drink lots of water. Water, of course, should be your beverage of choice.

"MyPlate" Offers an Easy Guide to Plan & Eat Healthy Meals

This colorful plate and glass icon shows you proper portions of healthy good choices – fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy. Notice that half the plate is for fruits and vegetables. And there’s much more! At the website www.supertracker.usda.gov *, you can find recipes, games, calorie counters, and get a custom eating and physical activity plan to meet your individual needs.

"My Plate" encourages you to do the following:

  • Balance calories you eat with your physical activity
    • Enjoy your food, but eat less.
    • Avoid oversized portions.
  • Increase Healthy Foods
    • Make at least half your plate fruits and vegetables.
    • Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
    • Make at least half your grains whole.
    • Vary your protein food choices.
    • Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
  • Limit Unhealthy Foods
    • Eat fewer foods that are high in solid (saturated) fats. Avoid foods with trans fat.
    • Choose foods with little or no added sugars.
    • Read labels to compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals—and choose foods with the lower numbers.

For more information, go to www.chooseMyPlate.gov *