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Eating “clean” is the hot term for healthy diets these days. Just Google it and you’ll see. But what exactly does it mean?


To eating clean, start by reading nutrition labels. Looking at a product’s sodium, saturated fat and sugar levels can help you make better choices. For example, processed items can be especially high in sodium and saturated fats, so cutting back or eliminating prepackaged and fast food is always a good place to begin.


However, your body does need a certain amount of salt, sugar, and fat to maintain healthy function. You can trade saturated fat for healthy fats found in nuts, fish and canola oil. These can actually improve your heart’s health by increasing your good HDL cholesterol.


Here are some other strategies for cleaning up your diet:


* Load up with veggies. Most vegetables are good sources of vitamins A and K, which are important for a healthy immune system and your vision.

* Weed out the sweets. Most people consume higher amounts of sugar during the day than the American Heart Association recommends-about 9 teaspoons a day for men and 6 a day for women. Limiting surgery sodas, or better yet replacing them with water, can make a huge difference. You should even be aware that foods advertised to be healthy, like cereals and yogurts, also can contain surprisingly high amounts of sugar.

* Go whole grain. Whole grains are healthier and more beneficial because the bran (multi-layered outer skin) and the germ (the embryo of the grain) are not removed when used to make products such as whole grain cereals. They contain beneficial antioxidants, vitamins and fibers that can work together to decrease your risk of heart disease and stroke.

* Increase your fruit consumption. Fruits are delicious, naturally sweet treats that are rich in antioxidants and fiber. They also can be a great way to satisfy your “sweet tooth.” But remember, fruit juice isn’t the same as the actual fruit. You need to be eating an apple – not drinking apple juice – to get the fiber.


Switching to a clean cuisine requires commitment and dedication. But once you’re on the right track and feeling the benefits, from increased energy to weight loss, it will be hard to turn back.


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