Americans spend almost twelve billion dollars a year on vitamin and mineral supplements in hopes of preventing chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. The percentage of adults using supplements continues to rise despite the fact that reliable scientific evidence does not prove any benefit. In fact, some recent studies have cautioned that excessive use of some supplements may increase the risk of heart disease or cancer.
Let’s get back to the basics of healthy eating and clean out the medicine cabinet! March is National Nutrition Month and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages us to “Enjoy the taste of eating right.” For most adults, eating a well-rounded diet with a variety of nutrient rich choices will supply all the vitamins and minerals we need for health. When consumed as part of the whole food package, those micronutrients are better absorbed and utilized by the body.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends including more low-fat and fat-free milk and dairy products, a variety of fruits and vegetables, and whole grains to give our bodies what they crave. Families can start by bringing milk back to meals. Having a glass of ice cold milk with meals would provide your family with three of the four nutrients most Americans are lacking; calcium, potassium, and vitamin D.
Leave the supplements on the shelf and enjoy the taste of eating right with these tips:
- Use Greek yogurt with unsalted nuts and fresh fruit for a quick breakfast.
- Blend low-fat milk with frozen fruit into a smoothie for a pick-me-up in the afternoon.
- Make a savory dip for raw veggies with plain Greek yogurt, herbs and salt-free seasonings.
- Slice a banana length-wise and top with a scoop of frozen low-fat vanilla or strawberry yogurt and top it off with a sprinkle your favorite whole grain cereal.
Kathy Warwick is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She is owner of Professional Nutrition Consultants in Madison, Mississippi.