Sunday, April 5, 2009

Healthy Diet Plan

Changes for Life

A healthy diet plan is something to work towards. For it to work, long term, it must evolve into something that you can stick to for life. The changes you make as you create your healthy diet plan will be more in the line of lifestyle changes, rather than short term diet measures. Your healthy diet plan must include a balance of foods to ensure that all the necessary nutrients are available.

Necessary Nutrients

Make sure that your healthy diet plan includes all the necessary nutrients. The main groups that these can be divided into are:
  • Protein
  • Carbohydrates
  • Fiber
  • Fats
  • Minerals
  • Vitamins
  • Water

Healthy diets need to include protein because:
  • It is used for growth and repairs in the body.
  • Helps nutrients move to and from the cells of the body.
  • Necessary for healthy hair, skin and nails
  • Important for muscle development
  • A source of energy
  • Necessary to help to fight disease

Good Sources of Protein for Healthy Diets
  • Fish, meat, chicken
  • Eggs
  • Dairy products
  • Nuts
  • Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wah)
  • Amaranth
  • Buckwheat
  • Peas and beans
  • Rice

Protein sources such as peas, beans and rice do not contain all of the essential amino acids by themselves. As such, unless they are combined with another source, the protein cannot be used for growth or repair of tissues.

Combining Non Meat Proteins for Healthy Diets

Combining grains and legumes results in a complete protein. That is, all of the animo acids that our body cannot make itself are in the combination.

Examples of grains:
  • Rice
  • Wheat
  • Oats
  • Corn
  • Barley

Examples of legumes:

  • Beans
  • Lentils,
  • Peanuts
  • Peas
Combining grains with nuts or seeds also results in a complete protein.

Examples of nuts and seeds are:

  • Sesame seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pepitas
  • Walnuts
  • Pecans
  • Cashews
  • Almonds
  • Brazil nuts

Combining legumes with nuts or seeds is another combination that provides a complete protein. Using these combinations can help you devise a healthy diet plan that will assist in getting the protein needed for good health.

Quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat are seeds that are often used as grains. They are also classed as complete proteins.

Quinoa is an ancient crop that has been cultivated in South America since 3000 BC. It contains all 8 of the essential animo acids. Use it in the same way you would use rice. It makes very tasty pilaf type dishes.

Amaranth, as well as being a complete protein, contains 15-18% protein. It also provides dietary fibre, iron, phosphorus, copper and manganese. It is high in calcium, magnesium and silicon. The seeds can be cooked and used in the same way as rice. The seeds are often ground and sold as flour that can be used in baking. Puffed amaranth is a quick, tasty breakfast cereal.

Buckwheat, which is not related to wheat in any way, contains 18% protein. Research has shown that the protein in buckwheat helps to control cholesterol levels. There are many other health benefits to using buckwheat such as better blood sugar control. Buckwheat flour is delicious in breads and pancakes. Buckwheat groats are something to experiment with as you make your healthy diet plan.

Perhaps some of the foods listed in this discussion on protein, as part of your healthy diet plan, are new to you. Try some new tastes, experiment with new recipes. If you have some great ideas that have contributed to your healthy diet plan, share them with us by leaving a comment.

Be in good health


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