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Eat Your Way to Healthy

If you’ve made the decision to lose weight, congrats! Weight loss isn’t easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is. And think of all that you’ve gained -- good health, confidence, energy, a positive outlook. By losing weight and becoming more active, you have lowered your risk for heart disease, diabetes, cancer and high blood pressure. But, it doesn’t stop there. By maintaining a healthy lifestyle, you can continue to lower your risk of disease. So how can you eat to prevent disease? Add these healthy nutrients to your diet to start!

Fiber

Adding fiber to your diet can do wonders for your health. Fiber is both filling and weight-reducing because most of the calories from fibrous foods are not absorbed. Fiber has a host of disease-preventing benefits as well. It boosts heart health by reducing total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, lowers cancer risk by promoting regularity, and helps prevent diverticulosis and hemorrhoids.

Where you’ll find it: fruits, vegetables, beans, corn and whole grains.

Calcium

Calcium is vital for building and maintaining bone mass. This miracle mineral may also help prevent osteoporosis, reduce PMS symptoms, lower blood pressure and keep you trim. Yes -- that’s right. So load up on a healthy amount of calcium and reap all the benefits.

Where you’ll find it: dairy products, fish with bones (sardines, salmon) dark-green leafy vegetables, fortified juices and breakfast foods.

Iron

Iron intake is necessary for growth and development. Iron also reduces your risk for anemia, which results in weakness, shortness of breath, irritability and lowered immunity. Loading up on a healthy amount of iron can help strengthen your immune system and fight off infection.

Where you’ll find it: meat, shellfish, beans/peas, dark-green leafy vegetables and fortified cereal.

Folic Acid

Folic acid is yet another vitamin you should add to your diet. Folic acid prevents anemia, enhances heart health, and reduces the risk of neural tube defects during the first weeks of pregnancy, when most women do not know they are pregnant.

Where you’ll find it: fortified grain products, dark-green leafy vegetables, citrus fruit and lentils.

Vitamins A, C, E

This vitamin trio has many potential health benefits. Vitamin A supports your immune system and protects your eyes. Vitamin C acts as a healthy skin, body cell, and immunity booster. Last but not least, vitamin E protects body tissue from damage caused by free radicals -- which can help prevent age-related dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Where you’ll find them: for vitamins A and C, eat fruits and vegetables that run across the color spectrum. You can find vitamin E in whole grains, nuts and vegetable oils.

Besides preventing disease, a healthy diet can add years to your life. A study of 42,000 women sponsored by the National Cancer Institute found that a diet that includes a variety of healthy food reduces a woman’s risk of a fatal disease by up to 30%.1 Even more reason to eat healthy, bump up the variety of foods you choose, and try new things. Kale anyone?

1. Kant AK, et al. JAMA. 2000;283:2109-2115.

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