Did you know that July is National Blueberry Month? The blueberry nutrient profile makes it a superstar in preventing disease such as diabetes and cancer, along with promoting heart and brain health is a perfect choice as our healthy eating icon. If you’re looking to improve your health, add the BeWell eating approach into your wellness plan. You can do this by choosing BeWell items on our menus and by following these six guidelines!
- Emphasize plant-based, whole foods. Health benefits of a plant-based, whole food diet are plentiful—from decreasing risk of disease and cancer to managing weight. They also have a lower impact on the environment compared to animal and processed foods. Examples: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, soy foods, herbs and spices.
- Eat healthy fats! Gone are the days of low-fat diets. We need a certain amount of fat in our diets to stay healthy, except for trans-fat. The healthiest fats are omega 3 polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats. Examples: nuts, nut butters, flax and chia seeds, salmon, tuna, avocados, and walnut, avocado or olive oil.
- Add lean protein or plant-based protein! Protein is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood. While high-protein diets surge in popularity, most people get too much. Fill your plate with plant-based foods and add lean protein in 2–3 oz portions. Or go veggie all the way and choose plant-based protein only. Plant-based protein examples: tofu, tempeh, soybeans, legumes, lentils, nuts and seeds. Lean protein examples: lean beef, lean lamb, veal, lean pork, bison, venison, poultry, fish and eggs.
- Limit added sugar. High-sugar intake is linked to obesity, cavities and heart disease. Common culprits of foods high in sugar are ice cream, grain-based desserts, cereals, candy and beverages, such as soda, energy and fruit drinks. To avoid sugar-laden foods, check food packages for added sugar and choose whole foods, including fruit and water most often.
- Fill-up on high fiber foods and don’t forget probiotic foods either! Fiber is a nutrient all-star; it feeds good gut bacteria to keep you healthy, maintains digestion and weight, and stabilizes blood sugar. Examples: whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds. Probiotic foods are foods that are either naturally fermented or have probiotics added to help promote digestion and good gut health. Examples: kefir, yogurt, miso, kimchi, kombucha and tempeh.
- Drink water and take time to move! Water is our source of life; make it your beverage of choice. Get moving; adapt a purposeful exercise routine to improve or maintain health. Adults need 150 minutes or more of exercise per week and children should get 60 minutes or more per day.
Make sure to enjoy some delicious blueberries this month and let us know your favorite way to enjoy them!
Carese Walczyk RDN, CD