In Martha Stewart’s new book, Living the Good Long Life: A Practical Guide to Caring for Yourself or Others, the lifestyle expert has some great advice on how to eat foods that are both healthy and delicious. She says that “front-loading your diet with plant-based foods, good fats, calcium-rich ingredients, and lean proteins is one of the best ways to improve and maintain health.” Here are what she calls the “Great Eight” food groups to eat from:
- Fruits and vegetables: Stewart recommends eating “unlimited quantities of vegetables” and says to aim for at least five portions a day. She also suggests eating several portions of fruit each day. And eating frozen fruits and vegetables is perfectly fine and “healthy,” she writes. Ways to get enough fruits and vegetables include adding leafy greens like kale and swiss chard to salads, drinking green juices, and adding fruits to salads.
- Whole grains: Stewart calls them “compact storehouses of nutrients.” But white bread, white pasta, and white rice do not count as whole grains, of course. Instead, eat quinoa, steel-cut oats, soba noodles, and whole-grain bread. She says, like a health advocate would, to aim for three ounces a day of whole grains.
- Legumes and beans: Legumes are things like lentils, chickpeas and split peas. Beans come in a wide variety of kinds, from black beans to pinto beans to garbanzo beans. Both can be a great source of protein and fiber. What’s more, they can be a filling part of your meal. Stewart recommends eating them as side dishes, spreads, and as part of salads and soups. Try to get at least two portions a day.
- Nuts and seeds: Things like almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pistachios, brazil nuts and pecans can be very healthy for you, with fiber, protein, and Vitamin E. You can get the nuts and seeds by making your own trail mix, using spreads like natural peanut butters and almond butters, grinding the nuts to make flours, and using the nuts in salads. Just keep in mind that nuts can be high in calories and fat, albeit healthy fats, so only eat about an ounce a day.
- Seafood : Omega-3 acids, which are contained in cold-water fish like salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines, and herring, are critical to your health. Shellfish can be a source of low-fat protein, and contain minerals critical to healthy living. Stewart recommends having three to four ounce portions of seafood three times a week.
- Lean animal protein: Things like chicken, turkey and eggs are good sources of protein and vitamin B-12. They also have less saturated fat than red meat. Stewart says it is okay to eat egg yolks in moderation three times a week. Poultry can be eaten three to four ounces a week, in three to four ounce portion sizes.
- Calcium-rich foods: These food items help build strong bones. Dairy products in milk, yogurt, and cheese are great ways to eat calcium-rich foods. If you don’t eat dairy due to being a vegan or lactose intolerant, you can get calcium from foods like spinach, white beans, fortified cereals and soy foods, and collard greens.
- Good fats: It used to be that all oils and fats were considered bad. These days, medical research has shown that olive oil is one of the good fats, as is eating foods like avocados. Just eat these fats in moderation.
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Lisa Swan writes for a variety of health and career sites. She lives in New York City.