Is your diet S.A.D.?
If you are a typical American and consume high levels of over-processed simple carbohydrates and refined sugars, then your diet is sad in more ways than one. The Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) is lacking in essential nutrients and therefore is the largest cause of obesity and death. Unfortunately, so many people fall victim to this way of eating for a reason- its usually cheap and convenient. They don’t call it “fast” food or a “value” mean for nothing! However, taking the easy route in the present is likely to lead to painful, expensive diet related chronic diseases in the not so distant future.
Do yourself a big favor and take your diet from S.A.D. to glad by eating whole, real, non-processed foods. Foods like fruits, veggies, and grains contain high levels of antioxidants and other nutrients, making every calorie worth something useful to your body. I am going to talk about 5 nutrients to add to your diet that will make your body happy and healthy!
1. Potassium is a nutrient that your body literally can’t live without. It keeps your heart beating and is linked to lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of osteoporosis. Increased consumption of Potassium can also decrease your risk of diabetes and heart disease. The recommended daily intake of Potassium is 4700 mg in order to keep your nervous system and muscles functioning properly. Not consuming enough of this nutrient can lead to muscle cramps, constipation, and fatigue. Here are some helpful ideas on how to reach your recommended daily dose:
-One small baked potato with skin = 738 mg
-1 medium banana = 422 mg
-1 cup cooked spinach = 740 mg
-1/2 cup cooked beats = 259 mg
2. Calcium helps maintain healthy bones, assists in nerve transmission, and helps our blood clot. While Calcium is the most abundant nutrient in our body, our body doesn’t naturally produce it (meaning we need to get all that we need from our food and supplements.) Not getting at least 1000 mg/day can lead to osteoporosis and bone fractures. Try these snacks for reaching your daily calcium goal:
-1 cup collard greens = 357 mg
-1/4 cup diced Swiss cheese = 261 mg
-1 cup nonfat milk = 293 mg
3. Iron is an essential protein building block that is involved in everything from carrying oxygen through the body to building muscles. Women are more likely to suffer from a deficiency, which can cause fatigue, memory loss, muscle loss, and difficulties regulating body temperature. The daily recommended intake of 18 mg for women and 8 mg for men can be a problem for vegans and vegetarians, since meat is higher in protein content. However, meat is not the only way to meet your daily Iron needs.
-10 clams = 2.62 mg
-1/2 cup edamame = 2.25 mg
-1 cup lentils = 3.3 mg
-4 oz beef sirloin steak = 2.4 mg
-1 cup cooked broccoli = 1.5 mg
4. Vitamin D is the only vitamin that we can both consume and make ourselves. Our bodies create Vitamin D in the form of a hormone when our bodies are exposed to sunlight. This nutrient is especially important to athletes because it can reduce inflammation/pain, risk of fractures, and increase muscle protein. Even if you’re not an athlete, your body needs and uses Vitamin D to protect your bones, regulate cell growth, decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, and help maintain correct levels of calcium. In order to get your daily recommended dose of 18 mcg, try:
-3 oz light canned tuna in water = 3.8 mcg
-1 cup fortified orange juice = 3.4 mcg
-1 cup fortified milk = 2.9 mcg
5. Fiber is a non-digestible carbohydrate that moves throughout our bodies and helps to promote digestion, prevent constipation, and reduce cholesterol levels. Both soluble fiber and insoluble fiber are important for our health. While insoluble fiber helps move food through the digestive system properly, soluble fiber can help lower glucose and cholesterol levels in the blood. Dietary fiber is not found in processes grains like white flour, so an estimated 60% of Americans with S.A.D. diets typically are starving for fiber. It is recommended that women consumer 25 g of fiber per day and that men consume 38 g. Make your sad diet glad:
-1/2 cup black beans = 6.1 g
-1 medium pear = 5.5 g
-1/2 cup fresh raspberries = 4 g
-1 medium baked sweet potato with skin = 3.8 g