Nutrition Nuggets: Five Healthy Eating Goals for the New Year

By: Helenkay Smith, MS, RDN, LDN, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Passavant Community

The new year brings the opportunity for a fresh start, a new beginning and a chance to make changes to our day to day lifestyle. Here are five sensible healthy eating goals that can make this year your healthiest one yet.

Eat seafood at least once a week.   Fish is not only a great resource of protein, it is also an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids that is a heart healthy food. Some fish have high levels of mercury which can be a health concern, so it is important to choose fish that is both high in omega fatty acids and low in mercury. Eating a variety of fish is another good way to keep down mercury levels.

Some examples of low mercury fish are salmon, herring, sardines, char, Atlantic mackerel and rainbow trout.

Another good fish choice is canned light tuna made from the skipjack or tongol varieties. Albacore and yellowfin tunas are higher in mercury and can be a concern if you eat tuna frequently. Read the ingredients on the can so you know what type of tuna you are buying.

Make vegetables and fruit part of every meal.   The US Dietary Guidelines recommends choosing one dark green and one orange vegetable each day. Dark green vegetables are rich sources of folate, which keeps your heart healthy. Orange vegetables and fruit are high in beta-carotene, which becomes vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A helps protect you from infection and is important for night vision.

Vegetables are a great source of fiber and are full of nutrients. They can make you feel full. Since many of us skip veggies first thing in the morning, try sautéing some bell peppers, tomatoes, onions and mushrooms and throwing them into an omelet. Start your morning fueling up with nutrients that well set the tone for the rest of your day.

Substitute your sugar sweetened beverage with water or milk.   Soda and sports drinks are not only loaded with sugar but they contribute to excess calories that can lead to weight gain. Always go for the water and never leave the house without taking a bottle of water with you.

Eat at least 20-25 grams (3 oz.) of protein for breakfast.   Getting protein in the morning will likely keep you fuller longer. It is important to get enough protein throughout your day which is essential for maintaining and developing lean muscle. Breakfast is the perfect time to get in some good protein. Try eggs, milk, Greek yogurt, cheese and lean sources of meat.

Go vegetarian at least once a week.   The USDA recommends having meat alternatives more often. Beans, lentils, tofu, nuts and seeds are high in protein and are inexpensive alternatives to meat and poultry. Beans and lentils are sources of fiber and folate. Nuts and seeds are also healthy vegetarian food and provide heart healthy unsaturated fats.