Eating too much salt can increase your blood pressure. Many Americans eat more than the recommended 2,300 mg of sodium per day (that’s about one teaspoon of salt). Cutting back on processed foods will help you reduce your salt intake, as most packaged foods contain more sodium than homemade versions. To help minimize salt while you cook, flavor your food with herbs and spices, citrus and vinegar.
7. Choose Whole Grains
Whole grains include more nutrients than refined grains because the bran and germ are not removed. Look for the word “whole” with the first ingredient in breads and pastas—for example, make sure it says “whole wheat,” not just “wheat.” Outside of whole wheat, choose whole grains like quinoa, oats and brown rice. Another bonus to eating whole grains: a study found that people who eat three or more servings of whole grains have lower body mass indexes and less belly fat than people who eat fewer.
8. Eat Less Meat:
Eating clean doesn’t mean giving up on meat entirely, but eating less meat can help eliminate extra saturated fat from your diet. A serving of meat is just 3 ounces (the size of a deck of cards)—but portions served at restaurants and even at home tend to be larger than that. Try serving vegetarian proteins like beans, tempeh or tofu on some nights and bulking up smaller portions of meat by serving it in veggie-packed soups or stir-fries.
Fruit has been nicknamed “nature’s candy” for good reason—it’s naturally sweet and delicious. Fruit is also rich in potassium, which can help keep blood pressure in check, and vitamin C, which is important for a healthy immune system. And just like vegetables, fresh fruits are whole, unprocessed foods. Frozen, canned and dried fruit is minimally processed and can be a great clean-eating choice as well. Just double-check the ingredient list to be sure that there is no sugar added, and look for fruit canned in its own juice. The recommended amount of fruit for most adults is 1½ to 2 cups per day. To make sure you get the added heart-health and weight-loss benefits of fiber, choose whole fruits over fruit juice.
10. Nix Refined Grains
Cutting out white flour and refined grains is an easy way to eat cleaner. Refined grains—unlike whole grains—are more processed and often stripped of beneficial nutrients like magnesium, selenium and fiber. Plus, they’re typically found in unhealthy packaged foods, like baked goods and junky snack foods that may also deliver added sugars, saturated fats and extra sodium. Skip the packaged refined carbs like cookies, crackers and cakes altogether, and also swap white rice, white bread and white pasta for brown rice and whole wheat bread and pasta.
Hopefully, these tips have inspired you to clean up your diet.
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