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The Food You Eat

By Jodie Parus, RD, LDThe Food You Eat

According to a study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, the food we eat is the leading cause of illness and death in America. In 2010, 678,282 or 1 out of every 4 deaths were attributable to dietary risks including low fruit and vegetable intake, high sodium intake, and consumption of processed foods.

More deaths were directly related to dietary risks than to smoking, heart disease, cancer, and alcohol or drug use. This is alarming, but there is good news! We can take control of our health and drastically lower our risk of disease, disability, and pre-mature death by choosing wisely the types and amounts of foods that we eat.

The top 5 dietary risk factors, causing the most premature disability and death, were shown to be diets low in fruits, diets low in nuts and seeds, diets high in sodium, diets high in processed meat, and diets low in vegetables.

Breakfasts and snacks are a great place to add both fruits and nuts and seeds.  Add berries and walnuts or almonds to oatmeal or cereal in the morning or enjoy a piece of fruit and 1 oz of nuts or seeds for a morning or afternoon snack.

Eliminating processed foods will dramatically lower sodium intake. Other helpful tips would be to buy fresh, frozen, or no added salt vegetables, eliminate canned and processed meats, and limit pre-made sauces. Additionally, use herbs and spices versus salt when cooking and sodium will be decreased, while maintaining great flavor.

Vegetables can easily be incorporated any time of the day. Toss them in an egg scramble or omelet in the morning, dip them in hummus for a snack, or have them as a side with lunch or dinner. A salad or sandwich loaded with a variety of vegetables provides multiple servings in one meal.

"The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison."  If we make sound choices for ourselves and our families, we can prevent illness, disease, and premature death.


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