Nutrition to Meet Your New Year’s Goals
As the year comes to a close, many people are making resolutions or setting goals for 2021. While you may be focused on one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions — a diet aimed at losing weight — following a good nutrition routine can help you reach all sorts of health goals, not just shedding pounds.
We’ve put together nutrition tips to help you reach four different common health challenges: strengthening bones, lowering blood sugar, reducing cholesterol, and boosting energy.
1. Building Strong Bones
While calcium supplements certainly play a vital role in keeping your bones strong, there are plenty of healthy foods that offer the nutrients necessary for healthy bones. In addition to calcium, look for foods that contain magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin K. A few bone-building choices include:
- Almonds and Almond Butter – Almonds are a great source of calcium and potassium. Two tablespoons of almond butter has 111 milligrams of calcium and 240 milligrams of potassium. One ounce of almonds contains 80 mg of calcium, 190 milligrams of potassium, and 75 mg of magnesium.
- Dark Leafy Greens – Kale, bok choy, Chinese cabbage, collard greens, and turnip greens all contain calcium and vitamin K. One cup of cooked turnip greens has about 200 milligrams of calcium (20% of your daily goal).
- Sweet Potato – One medium-sized baked sweet potato has 31 milligrams of magnesium and 542 milligrams of potassium.
- Citrus Fruits – Vitamin C has been shown to help prevent bone loss. One whole pink or red grapefruit has about 88 milligrams of vitamin C, giving you the amount you need for the entire day. A navel orange has 83 milligrams of vitamin C.
2. Controlling Blood Sugar
Lowering blood sugar is important for everyone, not just those with diabetes. For anyone who has pre-diabetes, a change in diet, along with regular exercise, can prevent diabetes. Try some of the foods below that have been proven to help control blood sugar levels.
- Broccoli – Broccoli has two enzymes (glucoraphanin and myrosinase) that work together to help lower blood sugar levels and promote insulin sensitivity. If you’re not a fan of raw or steamed broccoli, try roasting it with other vegetables or sauteing your broccoli with some garlic and mushrooms.
- Lean Fish or Chicken – Protein helps slow your digestion and prevent post-meal blood sugar spikes. Protein can also help prevent overeating. Fish and chicken are both excellent sources of protein. Avoid fried recipes and opt for grilled or baked fish and chicken.
- Flax Seeds – Flax seeds are known for being rich in fiber and healthy fats. They also can reduce blood sugar. In an 8-week study of 57 people with Type 2 diabetes, participants who added 1 oz. of flaxseed to low fat yogurt each day experienced significant reductions in A1c compared to those who consumed yogurt without flaxseed. You can also add flaxseed to granola or smoothies.
- Beans and Lentils – Beans and lentils are high in soluble fiber, which can help slow digestion and improve blood sugar response after meals. Try adding black beans or chickpeas to rice to reduce the carbohydrate load. Beans and lentils are also a good choice to replace potatoes or pasta.
3. Lowering Cholesterol
While avoiding fatty foods is the rule that is typically mentioned first to anyone trying to lower cholesterol, there are also things you can add to your diet to help lower cholesterol.
- Get 4 Servings of Fruits and Vegetables – Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants that can prevent plaque in your arteries. Studies show adults who eat four servings of fruits and vegetables each day have roughly 6% lower LDL cholesterol levels than people who eat fewer than two servings per day.
- Look for Soluble Fiber – Beans, whole grains, apples, and citrus all contain soluble fiber. The advantage of soluble fiber is that it is able to absorb bile as it moves through your digestive tract. Bile is made from cholesterol and helps your body digest fats. When your liver needs to make more bile, it pulls cholesterol out of your bloodstream.
4. Increasing Energy Levels
It’s easy to depend on caffeine to boost your energy. If your favorite caffeinated drink includes sugar or cream, you may want to turn to some other options for a healthy way to fight fatigue.
- Bananas – Bananas have two energy-boosting ingredients: potassium and vitamin B6. In addition to a banana at breakfast, try adding banana to a smoothie or some yogurt.
- Salmon and Tuna – Fatty fish like salmon and tuna are good sources of protein, B vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids. Protein and B vitamins can increase your energy, while omega-3 fatty acids can reduce inflammation, a leading cause of fatigue.
- Eggs – Eggs are packed with protein and have the amino acid leucine, which can help stimulate energy. A scrambled or hard-boiled egg in the morning instead of a bagel or cereal can help you avoid a carbohydrate crash mid-morning.
- Water – Be sure you are drinking enough water throughout the day. Even mild dehydration can sap your energy.
Plan Gradual Changes
If your eating habits are very different from the types of foods you need to reach your health goals, try making gradual changes, adding or eliminating one or two foods at a time. If you make drastic changes all at once, you are less likely to stick with the new menu. While it takes time to see the results of nutritional changes, you’ll realize many long-term health benefits.
Need Help Reaching Your Health Goals?
LeBauer Primary Care providers are dedicated to helping patients set and reach health goals. If you’re looking for a physician who can help you realize better health in 2021, learn more about our primary care team members and request an appointment online.