Overall, it is best to eat a diet made up of a lot of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein such as chicken or fish. It is difficult to lead an active lifestyle without eating a healthy diet, because it will be difficult to get enough energy to exercise. Get creative while cooking, and try to make new recipes with healthy ingredients; it is always possible to find new favorite foods. Again, be sure to drink enough water every day, and to try to quit unhealthy habits such as smoking or excessive drinking.
For this year's Healthy Food Awards, SELF editors taste-tested more than 250 packaged foods, all of which met nutrition criteria established by Stephanie Clarke, R.D. and Willow Jarosh, R.D., of C&J Nutrition. We looked for foods with minimally processed ingredients and considered factors like sugar, protein, calories, saturated fat, and sodium. But above all, the food had to be tasty and satisfying. It was hard work, but after lots of munching, we found our winners.
Cut down on oily and sugary food, soda and caffeine. If possible, reduce your intake of fast food, French fries, doughnuts, chips, wedges, and deep-fried food. Not only are they very fattening (1 tablespoon of oil is 120 calories), deep fried food contains acrylamide, a potential cancer-causing chemical. There are better alternatives, such as grilled, steamed, stir-fried, or even raw food.
And don’t forget about sustainably sourced eggs. “Vital Farms’ hens are allowed to forage freely, and this keeps the pastures healthy and means harmful chemicals aren’t necessary,” says Cassetty. “It’s a win for the animals, a win for the environment, and a win for egg lovers because pasture-raised eggs have more vitamins and minerals than eggs produced in other ways.”
Repeated dieting can actually lower metabolism and thus make your body retain more of what you put into it. Increasing exercise while not giving your body more food to compensate can also increase body fat storage. Dieting also increases heart disease risk, when compared to simply gaining a little weight. If you really need to lose weight, the most effective way is to increase exercise and cutting only a little food, while concentrating on fruits, veggies, and high fiber foods.
Whizzed up in a smoothie or mashed and spread on toast, avocados are a yummy way to boost your heart health. They're loaded with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats—including oleic acid, the same fat that gives olive oil some of its many perks. But that's not all. Avocados are a rich source of potassium—an essential mineral many people don't get enough of that helps lower blood pressure and the risk of stroke. They're high in vitamins and heart-friendly fiber too. Need more convincing? A 2017 review found that eating avocados may help fight metabolic syndrome, a dangerous cluster of conditions that often leads to heart disease.