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Plate full of healthy food items, including chicken, tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, and radish. It is surrounded by corn, forks, grapes, garlic, and lettuce on the surface holding the plate

It’s always a good time to lock in on your nutritional habits. But now that it’s National Nutrition Month, let’s dive even deeper! Tamara Schove, the Wellness Coordinator at the Maplewood Family YMCA, has some tips to share to make sure your nutrition is intact throughout the month and the year.

The fruits and vegetables you should prioritize eating to maintain your heart health are the colorful ones. Orange, purple, red, and green items tend to be that much healthier food options for you. Food that falls into these categories includes peppers, oranges, squash, and tomatoes. 

Antioxidants are a big deal! According to the Mayo Clinic, antioxidants are substances that may protect your cells against free radicals, which may play a role in heart disease, cancer, and other diseases.  
What foods are high in antioxidants? Berries, of course! Many berries are rich in vitamins and are jam-packed with antioxidants, like blueberries, strawberries, pomegranates, blackberries, raspberries, Goji berries, cranberries, grapes, and more. 
Being able to cut back on red meats (beef, pork) and processed meats (ham, bacon, salami) and replacing them with lean meats (chicken, fish, turkey) has tremendous health benefits. 
Lean meats are lower in saturated fats and cholesterol compared to red and processed meats, making them a healthier choice for heart health and weight management. Aim to incorporate lean protein options into your meals several times a week to reap the benefits of a balanced diet.  
Additionally, consider cooking methods such as grilling, baking, or broiling to minimize added fats and calories, further optimizing the nutritional value of your meals. 
Eating plant-based meals can improve overall health by reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancers. You do not have to cut meat out completely, but prioritizing vegetables over meat is imperative. 
One other thing to consider; plant-based meals are rich in nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals, which can help support a strong immune system and improve digestion. 
As we look beyond National Nutrition Month, let’s keep in mind how important proper nutrition is to our health. Small changes in our diet can have a big impact on our overall well-being, so let's continue to make thoughtful food choices, prioritize balanced meals, and stay mindful of the nourishment our bodies need. By doing so, we can take proactive steps towards a healthier and happier lifestyle. Not just for this month but for the months and years ahead.

Here's to embracing good nutrition today and every day!