For most people without certain chronic conditions, eating healthy doesn’t have to be difficult. You eat nutritious meals and snacks that, accompanied by a modest exercise routine, should help you lose weight, strengthen your overall health and boost energy.

Here are a few tips:

♦ Make half of your plate non-starchy vegetables.

♦ Enjoy three meals a day with 1-2 snacks daily. Choose protein and fiber rich snacks to keep you full longer.

♦ Keep fruits on hand like an apple, orange, or grapes with you for a quick, healthy snack.

♦ Drink water with meals instead of tea or soft drinks.

♦ Bake, broil or grill foods instead of frying.

♦ Eat lean proteins such as chicken, fish, beans, or pork.

♦ Cut down on the amount of sugar. Limit desserts to once or twice a week.

♦ Reduce salt intake by eating fewer processed food such as crackers or chips.

Heart-healthy food choices

Maintaining a healthy diet is one of the best weapons for fighting cardiovascular disease and other heart conditions.

Assuming most Americans know this, why is heart disease still the number one killer among adults? A major reason is that the American diet has shifted out of balance, often being high in sodium, added sugar, and saturated fats.

♦ Eat at least 2 cups of fruit and 2½ to 3 cups of vegetables every day. Produce is full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other essential nutrients. And produce is practically free of fat and cholesterol

♦ Read and compare food labels. To make the best use of food labels, first look at how many servings the package contains. Then look at the calories and fat per serving. Multiply the calories and fat by the number of servings you’re going to eat.

♦ Limit sugary beverages like soda and juice with added sugar. If you drink alcoholic beverages, limit your intake. Alcohol is high in calories. Limit intake to 1 drink per day for women and 2 for men.

♦ Prepare foods with little or no added salt. Try using other herbs to flavor foods like: cumin, cayenne, paprika, black pepper, oregano, lemon peel, garlic and onion powder, and rubbed sage.

♦ Skip the fried foods. After you purchase nutritious foods, make certain you prepare them in a healthy manner. Grill fish and chicken instead of frying it.

During the summer months, grilling is popular. It is a tasty way to prepare many foods and it doesn’t heat up the kitchen. But you might want to look to healthier alternatives than steak and the popular hamburger.

Impress your family and friends with your versatility. Try grilling fish, ground turkey or chicken burgers or skinless chicken breasts. Remember, the proper serving size of meat is about the size of a deck of cards.

Grilling often gives veggies and fruits an interesting flavor. Put them on skewers and grill away! And here is a cooking tip. If you are grilling meat and veggies, keep the veggies on one skewer and the meat on another because the cooking time is unlikely to be the same. Large fruits like apples and peaches are excellent when grilled.

While barbecue sauce might be tasty, it often has a lot of salt and sugar. Look for sauces with little to no added sugar or try using a spice blend to season your food. A splash of lemon and lime can also help.

Eating well should not mean giving up flavor. Think outside the box!

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