Foods for Health
Sound food choices do contribute to good health. Busy or stressed? Search out these food types to keep your body working its best. Good Nutrition will boost your immune system to reduce your chances of getting sick, improve your ability to concentrate and keep your digestion and stomach happy.
Nutrients to Know
The body's primary source of energy comes from carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are nutrition dynamos loaded with vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. Most young adults require 6-9 ounces per day. (see MyPyramid.gov for a personalized eating plan).
Campus dining offers:
Grains: rice, oatmeal, cold cereals, quinoa, and cornmeal
Whole grain breads: whole wheat, rye, pumpernickel breads, bagels, and muffins
Pasta: whole wheat pasta, couscous, macaroni and spaghetti
Starchy vegetables: potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, peas, and beans
Vitamin A (carotenoids)
The best know of all the carotenoids, beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant that may help protect the body against cancer. The body also converts beta-carotene into Vitamin A, which is essential for promoting good vision, and for maintaining healthy skin, mucous membranes, teeth, skeletal and soft tissues. Aim for fruits and vegetables that are dark green, yellow orange, or red in color.
Kale, Collard & Mustard
Vitamin C is another powerful antioxidant that may be useful in protecting us from environmental stress. Vitamin C also helps in wound healing and in iron absorption. Good sources are:
|Greens: Spinach, Kale||Red & Green Bell Peppers|
|Cauliflower||Oranges & Orange Juice|
|Strawberries||Citrus Fruits & Fruit Juices|
Vitamin E (α- tocopherol) is also an antioxidant that is lacking in some college students' diets. Its antioxidant activity also may help reduce the risk of health problems, such as some types of cancer. You should get your Vitamin E from food and not take large doses of Vitamin E as a dietary supplement.
Good sources are:
|Sunflower Seeds||Ready to Eat Breakfast Cereal|
|Oils: Canola, Olive, Peanut, Safflower, Sunflower||Nuts: Almonds, Hazelnuts, Peanuts|
|Wheat Germ||Tomato Sauces|
The main function of calcium is to build and maintain strong bones and teeth. It also aids in muscle contraction and the regulation of your heart beat.
Good calcium sources are:
|Skim/Low-Fat Milk||Low-Fat, Plain or Fruit Yogurt|
|Low-Fat or Part-Skim Cheeses||Sardines or Salmon with Bones|
Fortified Orange Juice, Rice or
|Fortified Breakfast Cereals|
Iron is critical for the proper development of red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen to your brain when it is use to make energy to keep you alert and moving. Young women should pay special attention to their iron intake.
Good iron sources include:
|Lean Cuts of Beef or Pork||Chicken & Turkey Breast (Skinless)|
|Beans & Peas||Lentils|
|Iron-Fortified Grains & Cereals||Whole Wheat Bread|
Potassium is critical for muscle contraction and for nerve impulses. Research indicates that a high potassium diet can help reduce blood pressure and lower the risk of stroke. Eating the recommended 2½-4½ cups of fruits and vegetables daily is the best way to get potassium.
Some particularly high sources:
- Orange juice
- Dried fruit: raisins, prunes, figs, apricots
You need zinc for the proper functioning of your immune system, for tissue repair, and in the replication of RNA and DNA.
Good zinc sources are:
|Lean Cuts of Beef||Eggs|
|Skim/Low-Fat Milk||Oysters (Cooked)|
|Whole Wheat Bread||Brewer's Yeast|
|Nuts: Pecans, Cashews & Almonds||Seeds: Pumpkin, Sunflower|
Multivitamins, Supplements, & Nutrients
Getting all the health promoting nutrients we need from food is ideal - but not always possible. If you choose to take a vitamin and mineral supplement, keep these important points in mind.
Select a multivitamin and mineral supplement that contains about 100% of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA). Mega dosing is not necessary, and may be harmful.
Avoid taking individual vitamins and minerals, unless recommended by a health professional. Vitamins and minerals interact with each other in a delicate balance. Overloading on one or two individual vitamins or minerals can interfere with the body's ability to use other vitamins and minerals.
Take your multivitamin and mineral supplements with meals to increase absorption.