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In a perfect world, every meal you eat would be filled with organic fruits and veggies, whole grains, low-fat and high-protein meats — all delicately sautéed in the finest of olive oils.
As you probably know quite well, this perfect world does not exist — at least most of the time. Schedules are busier than ever, you have a million things to do and places to go, and more meals than you care to admit are ordered from a fast food window or heated up in your microwave.
Fortunately, eating a more nutritionally dense diet is easier than you may think and it doesn’t take up a lot of time or money. Boost the healthiness of the foods that you are eating with these tips:
Understanding Macronutrients, Micronutrients and Phytonutrients
In order to get more nutrition out of your food, it’s important to understand some of the commonly-used terms. For example, you might see a lot of references to macronutrients and micronutrients. In a nutshell, notes Pediaa, your body needs larger amounts of macronutrients to be as healthy as possible; they help with energy and growth and include protein, fat, fiber and carbs. Micronutrients, while also necessary for health, are needed in much smaller amounts; antioxidants, minerals like iron and zinc and vitamins are all examples. As for phytonutrients, they are natural chemicals found in plants that help protect the plants from disease, and in turn may also boost our health and nutrition.
One of the easiest ways to get more nutritional value from the foods you eat is to buy them from local sources. Unlike the apples and cucumbers you buy at the grocery store — which were probably picked days if not weeks earlier and have lost up to half of their nutrients — the foods you find at farmers markets and the like are freshly-picked and chock full of nutrition. Check around for these types of markets and try to shop there as often as you can.
Once you get the food home, store all of the veggies (except the root variety) in the fridge. All fruit — except berries, tomatoes and avocados — should be stored at room temperature to help keep vital nutrients intact.
Consider a Supplement
One of the best ways to make sure you are getting enough vitamins and minerals in your diet is to take a multivitamin. Think of it as a nutritional insurance policy for those extra busy days when you eat on the go. You can also take nutrient-specific supplements that will help meet a particular health goal. For example, as Amway Connections notes, in order to help maintain strong bones, it is important to get enough calcium in your daily diet.
While getting enough weight-bearing exercise and eating a lot of calcium-rich dark leafy greens are great starting points, calcium requires vitamin D in order to be properly absorbed. To be sure that this happens, you may wish to take a daily vitamin D supplement like Amway’s Nutrilite Vitamin D. It provides 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 along with vitamin K2, which can help calcium get from your bloodstream into your bones.
Know When to Go Raw and When Cooked is Better
Getting more nutrients into your daily diet does not necessary mean consuming vast quantities of salads and smoothies. While it is true that some foods are better to eat raw — a good example is spinach, which loses a great deal of its vitamin C when cooked — other foods, like tomatoes, are healthier when cooked; the bioavailability of lycopene in tomatoes increases by 25 percent when they are boiled. Cooking meats and eggs will also denature their protein, which makes them much easier to digest.
Alison Stanton has been a freelance writer for the past 18 years. Based in Phoenix, Arizona, Alison thoroughly enjoys writing about a wide variety of people and topics. When she is not writing, Alison can be found hanging out with her family—which includes three wonderful rescue dogs—and sipping a caffeinated beverage from Starbucks.