Good alternatives to processed foods are fruits and vegetables. Fresh fruits and vegetables are best, but frozen and canned are good choices too.
An excellent nutritional option is green, leafy vegetables. Opt for greener salads with spinach, kale, and romaine lettuce. Other nutrient-rich vegetable selections include red, yellow, or green bell peppers.
Canned vegetables are less desirable because of high sodium content; however some of it can be rinsed off before cooking. Aim to consume less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. When canned fruits are the only option, use products in natural juices or water rather than syrup.
High-fat, high-cholesterol diets lead to health problems. The Alabama Extension website offers helpful information on fat and cholesterol. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Choose MyPlate has simple, healthy suggestions.
Eat your veggies
Surround yourself with nutritious foods in the forms you like most — maybe a favorite apple variety, a carrot salad, or pizza topping.
As you replace less healthy foods with fruits and vegetables, you may find that you are more likely to choose an apple rather than a high-calorie cookie. Nutritionists continue to identify a growing number of other foods that optimize health and reduce the risk of chronic, often life-threatening disease.
• Beets: a source of folate and presumed cancer fighter.
• Cabbage family (kale, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts): phytonutrients; believed to enhance cancer-fighting properties and lower inflammation.
• Canned pumpkin: fiber and immune boosting vitamin A.
• Cinnamon: possibly beneficial for maintaining healthy blood pressure and blood glucose.
• Dried plums: aka prunes, are a treasure trove of antioxidants.
• Frozen blueberries: antioxidants; believed to enhance memory.
• Pomegranates: potentially effective in supporting healthy blood pressure and loaded with antioxidants.
• Pumpkin seeds: magnesium to promote heart health and longevity.
• Salmon: omega-3 fatty acids, iron, magnesium, phosphorus.
• Swiss chard: eye-protecting carotenoids.
• Turmeric: anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting properties.
• Wheat germ: can be added to cereals, casseroles, and other foods.
• Nuts (almonds, walnuts, peanuts, and pecans): monounsaturated fats, but also high in calories.
A few traditionally Southern foods worth considering are sweet potatoes, watermelon, and collard greens.
For more information on this topic and many others, contact your local Blount County Extension Office at 205-274-2129.
Upcoming extension programs
• Virtual Wild Game Workshop: Thursday, Oct. 1, at 2 p.m. To register, please go to www.aces.edu/go/wildgamepayment.