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Nutrition 101: Healthy Eating - National Nutrition Month

March 7, 2019

March is National Nutrition Month. The purpose of nutrition month is to increase awareness for proper nutrition and a healthy eating plan. Promoting good health begins with being aware of how to eat a balanced diet and how to read nutrition facts labels. Refer to these Nutrition 101 articles for guidance on MyPlate Food Guide and New Food Labels.

It is also important to consume nutrient-dense foods. Empty calories are foods that provide no nutritional benefit to the body. Foods such as packaged cakes, cookies, and donuts and beverages like soda, sports, energy drinks, and many fruit drinks are all items that are high in added sugars and fat but provide no nutritional benefit to the body.

Our bodies need nutrients to survive. Vitamins and minerals are crucial in having strong, healthy bodies. Foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy are all perfect examples of nutrient-dense foods. So rather than filling up on empty calories from both food and beverages, be sure to consume foods that will promote good health and benefit your body!

Key nutrients that are beneficial to the body:

Protein - Important building block of bones, muscle, cartilage, skin, and blood. Sources: meat, fish, eggs, plant sources (beans, soy, nuts).

Carbohydrates -  necessary to fuel your body. Sources: whole grains, fruits, legumes, milk.

Calcium - essential for healthy bones and teeth. Sources: milk, yogurt, cheese, fortified orange juice, canned salmon, tofu.

Fiber - improves digestive health and can bind cholesterol and remove it from the body. Sources: whole grains, bran cereal, quinoa, black beans, soybeans, raspberries.

Iron - needed for healthy blood and normal functioning of all cells. Sources: spinach, beef, oatmeal, cream of wheat, kidney beans.

Magnesium - necessary for healthy bones and enzyme function. Sources: almonds/cashews, pumpkin seeds, peanut butter, avocado, banana, soybeans.

Potassium - helps maintain healthy blood pressure. Sources: banana, baked potato with skin, fish (halibut, tuna, cod), lima beans, turkey, milk.

Vitamin A - keeps eyes and skin healthy and protects against infections. Sources: apricots, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, dark green leafy vegetables.

Vitamin C - helps heal cuts and wounds. Sources: bell pepper, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, citrus fruits, kiwi, tomatoes.

To learn more, please contact your UnityPoint Health – Marshalltown dietitians at (641) 854-7530 or mt_dietitians@unitypoint.org.

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