Good nutrition is essential for optimal health. Check out healthy eating tips, foods for energy, disease management, and helpful nutrition resources.
People with healthy eating patterns live longer and are at lower risk for chronic diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, and depression. Chronic diseases can lead to disabilities and premature deaths.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Fewer than 1 in 10 US children and adults eat the recommended daily amount of vegetables.
- Only half of US adults get the physical activity they need to help reduce and prevent chronic diseases, and more than 93 million have obesity.
- Among US adults, the prevalence of both obesity and severe obesity was highest in non-Hispanic black adults compared with other race and Hispanic-origin groups.
It’s important to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy and fortified soy alternatives. When deciding what to eat or drink, make every bite count and choose options that are full of nutrients. The benefits of healthy eating add up over time and small changes matter.
Start Simple with MyPlate! Below are resources and information about each food group to guide you on your healthy eating journey.
Good nutrition is having a well-rounded diet, and it’s easier to do than you may think. In fact, living a nutritious lifestyle can be easy and fun.
Learn simple ways to help your whole family eat healthier.
- Add healthy fats. Foods with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are important for your brain and heart. Good sources of healthy fats include olive oil, nuts, seeds, certain types of fish, and avocados.
- Cut the sodium. Sodium increases blood pressure, which raises the risk for heart disease and stroke. For most people ages 14 years and older, sodium should not exceed 2,300 mg per day.
- Bump up your fiber. Fiber in your diet not only keeps you regular, it also helps you feel fuller longer. Fiber also helps control blood sugar and lowers cholesterol levels. Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes (beans and peas) are good sources of fiber.
- Aim for a variety of colors on your plate. Foods like dark, leafy greens, oranges, and tomatoes—even fresh herbs—are loaded with vitamins, fiber, and minerals.
Need tips specifically for young children? Learn how to introduce kids to healthy foods.
Below are nutrient-dense foods that you can include in your diet each day to increase your energy levels.
- Bananas are rich in carbohydrates, potassium, and vitamin B6, all key nutrients for energy.
- Fatty fish like tuna, salmon, and sardines contain omega-3 fatty acids, which have been associated with lower levels of fatigue-causing inflammation in the body.
- Brown rice contains more fiber, minerals, and vitamins than white rice and is a lower glycemic index food, which helps regulate blood sugar levels and lower the likelihood of blood sugar spikes and crashes, which make you feel fatigued.
- Sweet potatoes are a complex carbohydrate, which means you digest them slower, and they provide a steadier source of energy. They also contain the mineral manganese, which helps in the breakdown of nutrients to produce energy.
- Eggs are not only a good source of protein, but they also contain the amino acid leucine, which helps cells absorb glucose better, stimulating the production of energy in the cells and increasing the breakdown of fat to produce energy.
- Oatmeal contains the soluble fiber beta-glucan, which slows down the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream, providing a steady source of energy. It’s also a good source of B vitamins, iron, and manganese, which help the body produce energy.
Eating for sustained energy and stamina doesn’t mean you have to stick to what you may think of as “health food.” Dark chocolate (in moderation), strawberries, and avocados are also great energy-producing foods.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 38 percent of American adults have high cholesterol. Too much cholesterol contributes to a higher risk for cardiovascular diseases (CVD), such as heart disease and stroke, two leading causes of death in the United States.
Your body naturally makes all the cholesterol it needs and uses it to keep you healthy. In addition to what your body makes, the foods you eat also impact your cholesterol levels.
Eating lots of foods high in saturated fat and trans-fat contribute to high cholesterol; however, you can improve your cholesterol and maintain a healthy weight by eating heart-healthy foods.
Below are dietary steps you can take to manage and improve your cholesterol.
- Limit foods high in saturated fat. Saturated fats come from animal products (such as cheese, fatty meats, and dairy desserts) and tropical oils (such as palm oil). Foods that are higher in saturated fat may be high in cholesterol.
- Choose foods that are low in saturated fat, trans fat, sodium (salt), and added sugars. These foods include lean meats; seafood, low-fat or fat-free or dairy products, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables. MyPlate is the current nutrition guide based on the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. It provides guidance on how to create nutritious, balanced meals.
- Eat foods naturally high in fiber, such as oatmeal and beans (black, pinto, kidney, lima, and others) and unsaturated fats, which can be found in avocado, vegetable oils like olive oil, and nuts. These foods may help prevent and manage high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad”) cholesterol and triglycerides while increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or “good”) cholesterol levels.
To learn more, visit the CDC’s Preventing and Managing High Cholesterol website. Consult with your health care professional to establish a cholesterol management plan that works best for you. For additional support, encourage your whole family to join you in your heart-healthy lifestyle.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects how your body turns food into energy. Diabetes can develop when your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use the insulin it makes as well as it should. When there isn’t enough insulin or cells stop responding to insulin, too much blood sugar stays in your bloodstream.
Diabetes can increase your risk for heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, or blindness. Currently, more than 34 million Americans are living with diabetes and approximately 1 in 3 U.S. adults are at a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Early detection and diagnosis of diabetes is key to treatment. It is important to identify and recognize the various signs and symptoms of diabetes and get screened and tested to help decrease your risk of developing complications.
- Follow a nutrition plan for healthier eating.
- Set a healthy weight loss goal.
- Maintain regular physical activity.
- Don’t smoke and reduce your alcohol intake.
- Manage your blood sugar and seek support to help meet your health goals.
Contact your healthcare provider if you have questions about diabetes, or if you plan to start a new diet or exercise plan.
- USDA Nutrition Assistance Program
- Start Simple with MyPlate: Meet healthy eating goals one at a time! Use the Start Simple with MyPlate app to pick simple daily food goals, see real-time progress, and earn badges along the way. This easy-to-use app can help you make positive changes. Healthy eating can help you achieve a healthier life overall.
- Shop Simple with MyPlate: Find savings in your area and discover new ways to prepare budget-friendly foods.
- USDA National Hunger Hotline: 1-866-3-HUNGRY or 1-877-8-HAMBRE. Speak with a representative who will find food resources such as meal sites, food banks, and other social services available near your location.
- Dietary Guidelines for Americans