Nutrition 101: Understanding the basics

Gain an understanding of basic nutrition and learn more about how a tool from the United States Departnent of Agriculture can help you incorporate good nutrition into your life.

Nutrition is defined as the science that links foods to health and disease. Proper nutrition is one part of helping your body avoid suffering from chronic disease states. In order to obtain optimal nutrition for your body a person needs to eat a variety of foods. A new educational tool from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) called MyPlate is easy to use; many will find it much easier to understand than its predecessor, the Food Guide Pyramid. This is because MyPlate is a visual example of how our plates should look at each meal setting.

According to MyPlate, half of your plate should contain fruits and veggies, one quarter should be protein and the last quarter should contain a serving of grains, while a serving of dairy can be your beverage of choice for the meal. These foods contain a vast amount of nutrients which help promote overall body growth and maintenance. Here are some points to keep in mind:

  • When choosing grains at least half of your servings should be whole grains. Great examples of whole grains include brown rice, quinoa, barley and hominy grits. Protein selections can include beans/legumes, soy products, meat, fish and poultry.
  • When choosing dairy products its ideal to choose an item that is high in calcium and vitamins A and D, and that is low in fat. This helps you get the most nutrients with the least amount of calories.
  • Lastly, fruit and vegetable choices should ideally be those that are low in sodium and pleasing to your palate. Fruits and vegetables come fresh, frozen, canned or dried.

Following these simple steps will ensure that your diet is varied and that you are exposed to a wide variety of nutrients that your body needs to maintain optimal health. For more information on nutrition, contact a Michigan State University Extension educator in your area

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