10 smart tips for healthy eating

Young and happy woman eating healthy salad sitting on the table with green fresh ingredients indoors

1. Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables

Nutritionally, fruits and vegetables are hard to beat. They are exceptional sources of fibre, potassium, vitamin C and folate, all essential nutrients for the maintenance of good health. They also contain thousands of phytochemicals (natural compounds) that protect against disease.

Include 7 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables in your diet. One serving is: 1 medium-sized fruit, ¼ cup (50 mL) dried fruit, ½ cup (125 mL) cooked or raw vegetables, 1 cup (250 mL) leafy greens and ½ cup (125 mL ) of 100% pure juice. As often as possible, choose whole fruit over juice, because it contains more fiber and fewer calories.

Add a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables to your diet every day. Depending on their colors, fruits and vegetables have a different profile of nutrients and phytochemicals. To maximize their health benefits, eat fruits and vegetables that are red, blue, and purple (eg, tomato, watermelon, berries, red grapes), orange, and yellow (eg, carrot , sweet potato, bell pepper, mango, peach), greens (eg, asparagus, broccoli, green beans, spinach) and whites (eg, cauliflower, mushrooms, onion, banana).

2. Choose whole grains

Unlike refined (white) grains, whole grains retain the bran and germ, two of its parts, and thus almost all the fiber and nutrients they can offer. Eating foods made from whole grains instead of refined grains is associated with many health benefits, including lower risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Fiber-rich whole grains may also help maintain a healthy weight by increasing satiety and delaying hunger pangs.

In addition, a constant intake of refined grains, such as white rice or those found in white bread and refined breakfast cereals, can, if necessary, aggravate acne. As heavily processed grains are broken down quickly during digestion, they cause a rapid rise in blood sugar (amount of glucose in the blood). In response to the rapid rise in blood sugar, the pancreas produces a large amount of insulin, the hormone that moves glucose from the bloodstream to cells. According to the scientific hypothesis, a high concentration of insulin facilitates the binding of androgens – hormones that play a role in acne – to the cells 5-7 .

Make sure half of the grains you eat are whole grains, such as oats, brown rice, quinoa, and barley. When buying bread and breakfast cereals, choose products made from 100% whole grains. If the packaging does not mention it, read the list of ingredients. Check that a whole grain – e.g. eg, oats, whole wheat, whole rye, brown rice – listed first (ingredients are listed in order of weight, heaviest to lightest). Choose a product with all the grains on the list being whole

3. Limit the consumption of added sugars

You can recognize them on labels as brown sugar, corn syrup, brown rice syrup, cane syrup, dextrose, high fructose, fruit juice concentrate, glucose-fructose, honey and molasses. The main sources of added sugar are sugary drinks (eg, pop, iced tea, lemonade, energy drinks, sports drinks), candy, cakes, cookies, pastries, fruit drinks, dairy desserts (eg, ice cream, sorbet), sweetened yogurt, and ready-to-eat breakfast cereals.

Added sugars do not meet any nutritional need; they add calories without providing nutrients. Also, like refined grains, added sugars can cause a rapid spike in blood sugar. Data suggests that excessive sugar consumption increases the risk of obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Added sugars should account for less than 10% of the calories consumed daily or, even better, around 5%. Limiting added sugars to 5% of daily caloric intake is about six teaspoons (24 grams) for women and nine teaspoons (36 grams) for men.

To reduce your intake of added sugars, avoid consuming sugary drinks. Replace carbonated drinks with water, vegetable juice or unsweetened tea or coffee. Cut in half the amount of sugar, honey or maple syrup that you usually add to your food and drink; little by little, use even less of it.

Read the labels. Choose breakfast cereals that contain no more than 6 grams of sugar per serving. Find those with no added sugar. Choose snack bars where no more than half of the total carbohydrate content comes from sugar. Buy sugar-free non-dairy beverages and plain instant breakfast cereals.

4. Minimize saturated fat intake and avoid trans fats

It is indisputable that excessive consumption of saturated fat (animal) and trans fat increases the concentration of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) in the blood, which constitutes a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Worse still, trans fats, which are formed by a chemical process called partial hydrogenation, also lower the level of HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol). Consumed in excessive amounts, these two types of fat can promote inflammation.

To reduce your saturated fat intake, choose lean cuts of meat (e.g., sirloin, tenderloin, flank steak, round rib), poultry breast, and low-fat dairy products (1 % fat or less). If you use butter, do so sparingly.

There are trans fats in many commercial baked goods, snacks, fried foods and some margarines. Read the nutrition facts to choose foods that are free of trans fats. When the nutrition facts do not appear on the packaging of certain foods, as may be the case with prepared foods at the grocery store, read the list of ingredients. Avoid buying products that contain partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, hydrogenated oil or shortening.

5. Choose unsaturated oils

Foods contain two types of unsaturated fats: polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats. These can improve blood cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation. Certain polyunsaturated fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, can help lower levels of triglycerides (a type of fat) in the blood.

Replace saturated fat with unsaturated fat in your diet. Vegetable oils (eg, grapeseed, sunflower, safflower oils), walnuts, pumpkin, sunflower, flax, and chia seeds, and fatty fish (eg, salmon, trout, sardines, mackerel) are good sources of polyunsaturated fats.

Monounsaturated fats are found in avocados, olives, olive oil, canola oil, almonds, almond butter, cashews, pecans, pistachios, peanuts, butter peanut oil, sunflower oil (this is a blend of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated oils) and sesame oil.

6. Add plant-based protein to your diet.

Compared to foods that contain protein from meat or other animal sources, foods that contain protein from plant sources, such as legumes, lentils, soy, nuts and seeds, have virtually no saturated fat and many are low in calories. Unlike meat, plant proteins provide a wide range of beneficial phytochemicals. Many are also very high in fiber.

Try including more meatless meals on your weekly menu. For example, eat bean and lentil soups, black bean tacos, pasta with white beans, tofu stir fry and soy burgers. Snack on fruits and nuts, raw vegetables and hummus, whole grain crackers and almond butter, or a smoothie made with an unsweetened soy beverage.

7. Drink plenty of water

Water is an essential nutrient that allows your body to function well. It regulates body temperature, protects joints, carries oxygen and nutrients to cells, rids organs of toxins and hydrates skin. Drinking plenty of water can also improve mood, sharpen mental acuity and promote weight loss.

According to current recommendations, women should drink 9 cups (2.2 litres) of water daily and men, 12 cups (3 litres). If you exercise, you need to drink more to replace the water lost in sweat.

All beverages, with the exception of alcoholic beverages (which dehydrate), are used to meet daily water needs. In addition to plain water, milk, vegetable drinks, fruit juices, coffee and tea can hydrate the body.

8. Limit alcohol consumption

Although moderate alcohol consumption – one drink a day in women and two a day in men – is thought to be protective against heart disease, it can also carry risks. Even small amounts of alcohol can increase the risk of certain cancers. Alcohol can also disrupt sleep and promote weight gain.

If they drink alcohol, men should limit themselves to two drinks per day and women to one. One drink is equivalent to 341 mL (12 oz) of regular beer, 142 mL (5 oz) of wine or 43 mL (1.5 oz) of 40% spirits.

9. Consider taking a vitamin and mineral supplement

To stay healthy, the best strategy is to eat a wide variety of nutrient-dense foods. However, supplements cannot replace healthy foods, which provide countless disease-fighting compounds. However, some people may benefit for one reason or another from bolstering their diet with a daily vitamin and mineral supplement.

In some cases, it may be difficult to meet daily nutrient requirements through food alone. Stress, work demands, and lack of time and energy can be barriers to healthy eating. Taking a daily supplement ensures that the recommended intake of most vitamins and minerals is met.

This is especially true for menstruating women with higher iron needs and for people on calorie-restricted diets. Women of childbearing age – especially those trying to get pregnant – need to make sure they meet their folic acid needs to prevent birth defects such as spina bifida. Additionally, adults over the age of 50 are recommended to take a vitamin B 12 supplement or consume it in fortified foods, as the ability to digest this vitamin from food decreases with age.

If you think you might benefit from taking a vitamin and mineral supplement, talk to your dietitian or doctor so they can advise you on which product is best for you. If you take medication, ask about possible interactions between the medication and the supplements .


10. Maintain a healthy weight

To be healthy, it is essential to maintain a healthy weight. By maintaining a healthy weight, you’re less likely to get heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. Excess fat in the abdomen also increases inflammation.

If you are overweight, the best formula to adopt to lose it is to combine a good diet and physical exercise. Start implementing the healthy eating strategies listed earlier.

If possible, engage in moderate physical activity for 30 minutes almost every day. This may include brisk walking, biking or dancing, playing tennis or doing other sports. Regular exercise will not only help you lose weight, but also keep it off.

If you’re having trouble controlling your weight, see a registered dietitian who can design an eating plan that fits your lifestyle, food preferences and health needs. 

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