Everyday Wellness: Healthy diet. Healthy you

April 7, 2011

Eating a healthy diet is one of your best bets for wellness, disease prevention and good health. Yet the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 indicates that many adults lack essential nutrients, from calcium to fiber.

How healthy is your diet? Do you look for foods high in nutrients and low in fat and calories?
See how you stack up.

1. Calcium for strong muscles and bones
Calcium keeps your bones strong and helps maintain normal heart rhythm and muscle function. Check the labels for the calcium per dose.

Daily needs:
• Ages 19-50: 1,000 milligrams
• Ages 51 and older: 1,200 milligrams

Three healthy sources (contain 300 milligrams per serving):
• 8 ounces (1 cup) of skim milk or low-fat yogurt
• 8 ounces (1 cup) calcium-added orange juice
• 1 1/2 ounces hard cheese

Calcium is best absorbed in the presence of lactose, which is a natural milk sugar.

2. Fiber for overall health
Fiber-rich foods lower the risk of developing chronic conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Fiber is filling, relatively low in calories and can help with weight control. Check packaging for fiber content per serving.

Daily needs:
• Men ages 19-30: 34 grams; ages 31-50: 31 grams; ages 51 and older: 28 grams
• Women ages 19-30: 28 grams; ages 31-50: 31 grams; ages 51 and older: 28 grams

Three healthy sources:
• Snack on fruit, vegetables or low-fat popcorn (a whole grain) instead of cookies, candy and chips.
• Choose whole-grain breads, crackers, cereals and pasta.
• Include fruits and vegetables at every meal.

3. Vitamin A for healthy eyes
The body converts carotenoids to vitamin A, and most people don't get enough carotenoids. Vitamin A is essential for normal vision, tissue growth and proper immune function. There is no daily requirement for carotenoids.

Three healthy sources: Colorful produce.
Top picks include:
• Carrots
• Sweet potato
• Spinach

4. Magnesium protects your bones and your immune system
Magnesium contributes to bone strength, promotes immunity and normalizes muscle, nerve and heart function.

Daily needs:
• Men ages 19–30: 400 milligrams; ages 31 and older: 420 milligrams
• Women ages 19–30: 310 milligrams; ages 31 and older: 320 milligrams

Three healthy sources:
• Snack on pumpkin seeds.
• Sprinkle slivered almonds on cereal or low-fat yogurt.
• Substitute legumes (like beans) for meat.

5. Vitamin C for a healthy immune system
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and is vital for the production of collagen, the connective tissue that keeps muscles, skin and bones healthy. Your body can't store vitamin C, so you need some every day.

Daily needs:
• Men ages 19 and older: 90 milligrams
• Women ages 19 and older: 75 milligrams

Three healthy sources containing more than 50 milligrams per serving:
• Orange juice, 6 ounces
• Strawberries, 1/2 cup raw
• Broccoli, cooked, 1/2 cup

6. Potassium for nerves and muscles
Potassium is important for healthy muscles, nerves and fluid balance, as well as promoting strong bones. It also fights high blood pressure, which can creep up with age. People over age 19 need 4,700 milligrams of potassium every day.

Three healthy sources containing more than 500 milligrams per serving:
• 1 cup canned white beans
• 1 cup cooked spinach
• 1 cup low-fat yogurt

Who may need more nutrients?

* Women of childbearing age -- folic acid
Women who may become pregnant need 400 micrograms of folic acid every day from supplements or foods. It helps protect against neural-tube defects (and possibly cleft lip and/or palate) during the early days of pregnancy.

Fortified foods include:
• 1 ounce ready-to-eat breakfast cereals: 100-400 micrograms folic acid
• 1 cup cooked enriched spaghetti: 80 micrograms folic acid
• 2 slices enriched bread: 34 micrograms folic acid

Folate-rich foods include:
• 1 cup cooked lentils: 358 micrograms folic acid
• 1 cup cooked broccoli: 168 micrograms folic acid
• 1 cup orange juice: 110 micrograms folic acid

* Older adults, people with dark skin, and those who avoid the sun, may lack vitamin D
Age decreases the body's ability to make vitamin D, so older people, or those who have dark skin or avoid the sun, may become deficient -- at the same time as their needs increase. After age 51, you need 400 international units (IU) a day. You need 600 IU daily after age 70.

Most foods are poor natural sources of vitamin D. Experts recommend consuming vitamin D from fortified foods, including milk and breakfast cereals, and from supplements. You may need a mixture of both to get the vitamin D your body requires.

Sources: WebMD and CIGNA VitaMin

* DietaryGuidelines.gov: www.cnpp.usda.gov/dietaryguidelines.htm
* MyPyramid.gov: www.mypyramid.gov/
* Purdue Farmers Market: www.purdue.edu/physicalfacilities/farmersmarket.htm
* myCIGNA.com, select the My Health tab and browse the Healthwise medical encyclopedia


How Purdue can help

* WorkLife Programs Offerings
WorkLife Programs offers a variety of nutrition-related help, including free consultations with registered dietitians and numerous classes. More information is at www.purdue.edu/hr/WorkLife/counseling.html. To see what's available and register, use your career account and password to log in at the WorkLife Programs home page at www.purdue.edu/worklife, or call 765-494-5461.

* WorkLife Programs Resource Center
WorkLife Programs has a library of materials available for Purdue faculty and staff. Books, CDs, DVDs, equipment and videos may be borrowed for up to three weeks. Log in with your career account and password on WorkLife's home page at www.purdue.edu/worklife, and then click Resource Center on the left-hand side.

* Purdue Farmers Market
Back for another year, the 2011 Purdue Farmers Market is set to open in May. Watch for more information as opening day approaches. The market's website is at www.purdue.edu/physicalfacilities/farmersmarket.htm.
* Choose Well, Live Well Personal Health Team
Live Well Advocates on Purdue's Choose Well, Live Well Personal Health Team are available to provide nutritional information and counseling at no charge to you. Live Well Advocates can also discuss related benefits available through your Purdue medical plan. Contact the health team at 800-767-7141.

* Purdue medical plans
All Purdue medical plans cover nutritional counseling and evaluations. Refer to the Purdue Benefits website at www.purdue.edu/hr/Benefits/Medical/Welcome.html to see what your plan offers.