Good news, USA! Americans are adding more beautiful foods to their diets.
The American Dietetic Association just issued their 2011 Trend Report, and it looks like some of us are finally listening to the pleas of nutritionists across the land. “We are seeing single foods, such as berries and fish, growing in consumption,” says registered dietitian and American Dietetic Association Spokesperson Jeannie Gazzaniga-Moloo. “For many people, they are an easy fix for better health—consumers feel better if they are doing something without really having to engage in major behavior changes or delving into emotional reasons for eating.”
And let’s face it, small, incremental improvements, not major overhauls, can be the difference between failing and succeeding.
According to their survey, a substantial amount of Americans cut back on those U.S. staples, beef, pork and dairy. “Cutbacks on pork, beef and dairy may reflect movement toward lower overall consumption of saturated fat; however, cutting back particularly on dairy can also reduce people’s intake of calcium and vitamin D,” noted Gazzaniga-Moloo. Good to know, good to know.
What else? People claimed they've increased their consumption of berries, low-fat foods, omega-3 fatty acids, low-sugar foods, and low-sodium foods, which is totally great news. Here’s why you should keep up the good work:
Berries: It’s fairly common knowledge at this point that berries contain antioxidants, which help fight free radicals, resulting in major anti-aging benefits. Blackberries in particular, "have consistently received high ORAC scores [these scores measure total antioxidant absorbance capacity] year after year, and they act as an anti-inflammatory for your skin, keeping it youthful and radiant," explains Kristin Kirkpatrick, R.D., YouBeauty Nutrition Expert and wellness manager at the Cleveland Clinic.
Besides lending your skin a gorgeous glow, they’re good for your brain too. A recent study linked the consumption of berries to the prevention of memory loss and other forms of mental decline.
Low-fat foods: Whole grains, fruits and vegetables are all naturally low in fat, and eating them is key when it comes to preventing a host of health problems related to cholesterol, heart disease, and other side effects of a high fat diet. (Such foods have even been linked to cancer prevention.) That said, not all low-fat foods are created equal. When it seems too good to be true—such as when the label is printed on a box of cookies or potato chips—steer clear. In fact, the F.D.A. has been scrambling to review products that feature these (usually) misleading labels.
Omega-3 fatty acids: Found in the so-called “good fats” like fish and flaxseed, besides health benefits such as reducing inflammation and reducing the risk of diseases like diabetes and arthritis, omega-3’s pack a serious beauty punch by contributing to better-looking skin, hair and nails.
Low-sugar foods: While plenty of naturally sweet fruits like apples and bananas are also beneficial sources of fiber, again, be wary of labels. For example, real cranberries would be a much healthier choice than “low-sugar” cranberry juice. We need some sugars in our diet in order to stabilize blood glucose levels, but unless you’re using the ingredient as a facial scrub, less is more.
"The more sugar you eat, the more likely you are to have skin that is dull and wrinkly," says Kirkpatrick, likely due to a process called glycation that leads to damaged collagen and elastin, two structural proteins in the skin.
Low-sodium foods: The population may have one big sweet tooth, but our other addiction, salt, is just as dangerous. According to the University of California San Francisco, the average American eats five or more teaspoons of the stuff every day, which is about 20 times as much as we need. (You only need about one-quarter of a teaspoon daily!)
Besides helping you avoid stroke and kidney disease (among other related problems) less salt keeps bloating at bay. Less salt, more svelte? Now that’s motivating.
See how your BMI and waist-to-hip ratio is affecting your beauty and health.
Highlight your eye color. Flaunt your body shape. Harness your confidence. Take our quizzes to better know yourself and get science-based, individualized advice to embrace your true beauty.
See how your BMI and waist-to-hip ratio is affecting your beauty and health.Take Quiz
Great sex does more than blow your mind—it's good for your heart, your head and your beauty.Take Quiz
Define your curves and discover the best ways to eat, exercise and dress for your figure.Take Quiz
If shopping for eye makeup is one big guessing game, find your best colors here.Take Quiz