Wednesday, May 13

SNACKTIME: healthy nutrition habits for the whole family




Dietary Guidelines for Americans, produced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, recommends a tasty Mediterranean-style diet for promoting good health and preventing disease. The basis of this nutritional recommendation comes from traditional dietary preferences in Greece, Southern Italy, and Spain. Families can enjoy a super healthy plant-based diet of vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes (beans, peas, and tofu), and whole grains without giving up meat.

In fact, an analysis of more than 1.5 million healthy adults demonstrated that following a Mediterranean-style diet provides a host of benefits. The diet helps reduce risks of heart disease and cancer, as well as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases.

Key components of a Mediterranean-style diet:

  • Eat primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts (tofu = soybeans = plant).
  • Replace butter with healthy fats, such as olive oil.
  • Use herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods.
  • Limit red meat to no more than a few times a month.
  • Eat fish and poultry at least twice a week.

Practical tip #1
Keep nuts like almonds, cashews, pistachios, and walnuts handy for a quick snack.  Pair with fruit or whole grain crackers for convenient after school snacking.

Practical tip #2
Dip celery, carrots, or cucumbers in hummus.

Select natural peanut butter instead of brands with added hydrogenated fat. Try blended sesame seeds (tahini) as a dip or spread for bread. A Mediterranean food guide is available on Health Facts for You, a fact sheet prepared by UW Health.

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Submitted by Leslie Kay-Getzinger, MS RD
Regional Dietitian for Nutrition Management Services Company

Image credit: Nazareth Healthcare

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