What does healthy eating today really mean?

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Answered by: D, An Expert in the Choose the Right Foods Category
More than ever before, healthy eating today the world over means eating real food that is as fresh as possible and preferably organic. But what does this really mean for the average American eater? Let's break healthy eating today into its component parts so it is more readily understandable.

Healthy eating today means eating real food. Real food is first and foremost food that has not been processed to any large extent but is instead recognizable. One oft-cited example of overprocessing is high fructose corn syrup---no where in this sweetener is corn a recognizable ingredient short of having it analyzed chemically. Overprocessing destroys important nutrients in food and can also add unhealthy ingredients, like fillers and preservatives, where none would be needed if it were to be eaten in a less processed state.

Overprocessing can change the essential nature of food to the point where some experts feel it cannot be digested readily by the human body. Many health care experts feel overprocessing of our food is the biggest reason the today's population in this country suffers from so many diseases like cancer and diabetes and why many are overweight. Overprocessing robs food of its nutrients and makes it into something other than what it was originally.

Another component of healthy eating today is freshness. Food should be locally grown and produced in order to get it to market in as fresh a state as possible. This means it will yield the greatest amounts of nutrients available to it. Compare the available nutrients in a pound of just picked ripe melons with those from unripe melons shipped over a two week period from a country in South America to New York state. Not having to ship food any great distance also is more cost effective and environmentally friendly because less fuel is used to move it---everyone wins when eating locally.

Perhaps most important to healthy eating today, however, is eating organic foods whenever possible. Many inorganic fruits and vegetables are grown using genetically modified seeds. These seed strains were developed to produce crops that can resist the effects of unusually large amounts of herbicides and pesticides. Inoranic growers, one can bet, use large quantities of chemicals in their fields in an attempt to increase crop yields---chemicals which may prove to be harmful to both humans and animals.

This also goes for eating organically grown meat. Meat from animals raised organically means they weren't fed crops that were laced with huge quantities of these chemicals. They will be healthier animals, they will taste better than inorganically fed animals and everyone comes out ahead. So eating organic foods whenever possible is the safe choice and part of any healthy eating today regimen.

Another aspect of healthy eating today concerns the choice of foods one eats and the quantities that are needed. Perhaps the biggest challenge here is getting enough variety in foods so that one gets enough of the nutrients thought to promote and maintain health while not getting too many calories. Calorie counts and nutritional needs vary over one's lifetime, which further clouds one's understanding of how and what to eat today.

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