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(NAPS) Although March is officially National Nutrition Month, anytime is a good time to eat more nutritiously, points out the Society for Public Health Education. It offers 12 tips to help.
Go fresh. Choose fresh seafood, lean poultry, and beans as your protein source. If using ground meats, choose 93 percent lean ground turkey or ground sirloin beef for tacos, enchiladas or tostadas.
Make fresh salsa or black bean dip. Store-bought salsa is often loaded with sodium. If you plan to have more than a tablespoon or two, fresh salsa is a much better option. Guacamole contains healthy fats, but it is high in fat and calories.
Measure out portions. It is easy to overeat on snacks like tortilla chips. Measure out just one serving (usually about 10) so you can save room for the main course.
Favor whole grains. Brown rice is a whole grain and has more nutrients than white rice. Use corn and whole wheat tortillas instead of those made with flour. Buy or bake whole grain breads and baked goods.
Use the plate method. Fill half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables. Fill one quarter of your plate with a lean protein. Then fill one quarter of your plate with a starchy food, such as beans or brown rice.
Use healthy cooking methods. Grill your chicken, fish or vegetables. You can also try baking, steaming or broiling. Small amounts of vegetable oil, olive oil or cooking spray are better options.
Beans make a great protein source. Use dried beans when you can. They are lower in sodium than canned varieties. Always drain and rinse canned beans to remove excess sodium. If you are buying canned refried beans, buy fat-free varieties. Or make your own by blending whole black or pinto beans in a food processor with spices.
Go easy on the cheese. Cheese is high in saturated fat and in sodium. Queso fresco is a great choice if used in moderation. You can also try reduced-fat cheeses.
Substitute healthier options for sour cream. Non-fat Greek or plain yogurt and non-fat plain yogurt have a similar taste and texture to sour cream for much less calories and fat.
Cut your portion size when eating out. If you eat out, split the meal with someone else, eat half the meal and bring home leftovers, or order a kid-sized meal.
Snack on fruits and vegetables. Keep a bowl of fruit out on a table or counter to encourage healthy snacking. Precut veggies and make "grab and go" packets.
Pack your lunch. Skip eating out and bring your lunch.
"National Nutrition Month is an opportunity to learn more about nutrition and try new and healthy foods. Eating healthy foods can help weight management and lower risk for many chronic diseases including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer, which especially affect many Latino communities," said Elaine Auld, CEO of SOPHE.
Substituting foods and even small dietary changes can lead to positive results, notes Auld. Researchers report that more than 40 percent of Latinos are obese. Auld is working with SOPHE members and other partners to decrease those numbers.
"We want to help Latino communities, families and individuals overcome the barriers to good health," Auld added. "We want to make healthy living easier where people live, learn, work, and play."
The Society for Public Health Education is partnering in a three-year nationwide project called the National Implementation and Dissemination for Chronic Disease Prevention, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are 97 projects in communities across the nation assisting people and communities in living healthier lives. Learn more at #Partnering4Health and www.partnering4health.org.