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Simple ways to make meals healthier

Cooking food at home is one of the simplest ways to gain greater control over personal health. Cooking at home is the easiest way to know precisely what you're putting into your body each day. Cooking your own meals also enables you to customize recipes so they align with any dietary restrictions or personal preferences you may have.

According to a 2021 survey by the consumer market research firm Hunter, 71% of people in the United States planned to continue cooking more at home after the pandemic ended. Increased creativity and confidence in the kitchen, as well as the fact that cooking at home helps to save money and enables one to heat healthier, is driving the ongoing increase in dining in.

When cooking at home, cooks can consider various tips to make meals that much healthier.

¥ Increase fiber intake. Fiber improves bowel regularity and helps a person feel full between meals. High fiber foods also help stabilize blood sugar levels. Two servings of fibrous foods at each meal and an additional fiber-rich snack each day can ensure your body is getting the fiber it needs.

¥ Slow down eating. The pace at which a person eats a meal can affect his or her overall health. Healthline reports that fast eaters are more likely to eat more and have higher body mass indexes than slow eaters.

¥ Choose whole grains. Choosing whole grain breads or cereals over refined grains can make for a more nutritious diet. Whole grains are linked to a reduced risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

¥ Swap Greek yogurt for other varieties. Greek yogurt contains up to twice as much protein as regular yogurt, providing roughly 10 grams per 3.5 ounces. Protein along with fiber helps a person feel fuller longer, which can manage appetite and reduce overeating. Greek yogurt also can replace mayonnaise or sour cream in certain recipes.

¥ Add a vegetable to every meal. Vegetables are loaded with essential vitamins and minerals. Plus, they tend to be high in antioxidants that strengthen the immune system. Increase vegetable intake by eating vegetables with every meal.

¥ Choose healthy fats. While a person should minimize the amount of oils and other fats used during the cooking process, when it's necessary for a recipe, select the best fat possible. Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat that is packed with antioxidant polyphenols. It is considered a heart-healthy oil, and it may promote a healthy brain and memory function.

¥ Cut out sweetened beverages. Sodas and other sweetened drinks are leading sources of added sugar in diets. Opting for water or naturally sweetened fruit juices can improve overall health.

Small dietary changes can add up to big health benefits.


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