What we are eating and how can we make healthy choices?

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By Theresa Howard

 Research shows that many of us are not getting enough nutrient dense foods, the foods that give our bodies the most benefit. Instead we are eating too many solid fats (unhealthy fats), added sugar, refined grains, sodium and saturated fat. 

What are we eating? 

One-third of our calories should come from carbohydrates. Instead, most of the calories come from grain-based desserts, such as, cakes, cookies, pies, cobblers, sweet rolls, pastries, donuts and sweetened beverages.

We should consume three cups of fat-free or low-fat milk or equivalent milk products a day. Instead, on average, we consume three-fourths a cup of milk a day.

Adults should eat 2.5 cups of fruit per day. Most adults eat less than 1.5 cups. Most of us consume most of our fruit in the form of juice leading to an increase in sugar in our diets.

Adults should eat about 3 to 4 ounces of whole grains each day. Most of us are eating less than 2 ounces.

We consume more than twice the maximum daily amount of sodium needed because of how much we eat out, instead of fixing meals at home.

About one-third of our daily calories come from snacking on chips, cookies, cakes, candy, and sweetened beverages. This is causing us to consume two-to-three times more than the recommended amounts of fats and sugars.

More than half of us are not getting the correct amount of magnesium, 40 percent are not getting enough vitamin A, and nearly one-third are not getting enough vitamin C from the foods and beverages we are currently eating. 

How can we make healthy choices? Choose more of the following foods: 

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products
  • Seafood
  • Lean meats and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, nuts and seeds
  • Limit the following foods: 
  • Sodium. This can be done by cutting back on processed foods such as commercially prepared dinners, pot pies, stews, chili and canned soups
  • Calories from solid fats.
  • Intake of added sugar.
  • Intake of refined grains.

Theresa Howard can be reached by calling the LaRue County Extension Office at 270-358-3401.