Sticking to a good diet involves choosing healthy foods and making “trade-offs” with foods that have both pros and cons. For instance, avoid eating high-cholesterol liver most of the time, but enjoy it occasionally for a nutritious burst of dietary iron. According to the American Heart Association, in many cases, the variety of food, method of cooking and portion size make a difference in whether or not a dish is good for you. Make choices as you shop, cook and serve to create meals that you should eat to get the nutrition you need.
Beef can be a healthy food source of protein if you avoid eating organ meats and fatty cuts, which tend to carry the most cholesterol. The USDA suggests choosing 3-ounce portions of beef eye of round, trimmed of most fat. That menu item, with 4 grams of fat, belongs in a good diet, as opposed to the same portion of chuck pot roast, with 23 grams of fat, which you shouldn’t eat often. Fast-food double hamburgers do not belong in a good diet, thanks to 32 grams of fat, nearly half of the 65-gram total daily value recommended by the FDA.
Seafood marks an alternative protein food source that generally has less fat than beef and other meats. The American Heart Association endorses eating fish, such as salmon, herring and trout, twice a week or more for their omega-3 fatty acid content and other nutrients. Eat crustaceans, including shrimp, blue crab and lobster, and mollusks, such as oysters, on an occasional basis due to their cholesterol content. According to the USDA Nutrient Database, a 6-ounce fast food order of breaded, fried shrimp contains two-thirds of your 300-milligram cholesterol allotment for the day.
You should choose potatoes for healthy food sources of dietary fiber, iron, potassium and vitamin C. Sweet potatoes, like other orange vegetables, also contain large amounts of vitamin A. A baked potato or sweet potato has no fat or cholesterol. The USDA advises limiting foods cooked with added fat or sugar in a good diet. This means that you shouldn’t eat french-fried or sauteed potatoes or candied sweet potatoes often. The American Heart Association suggests topping potatoes with trans fat–free margarine, rather than butter and sour cream.
The USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggests eating more whole grains to increase dietary fiber levels. Brown rice is a healthy food that satisfies this directive and provides protein, iron and B vitamins. White rice, on the other hand, is refined, and loses much of its fiber in processing but retains its calories. Avoid eating these refined grain foods that have a lower nutrition-to-calorie ratio than whole grains.
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.