Monthly Health Message:

Small Steps to Eating Healthy Snacks

May 2007

Karen Ensle Ed.D., RD, FADA, CFCS
Family & Community Health Sciences Educator
Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County

Want to eat a healthier diet? Follow these nutrition tips:

  1. Eat foods rich in vitamin C every day. An adequate intake of vitamin C may help to protect against certain cancers and reduce the risk for other diseases. Oranges and citrus are good sources along with broccoli, cabbage, cantaloupe, grapefruit, strawberries, tangerines and tomatoes.
  2. Eat fish to help your heart. Eating fish twice or more a week is recommended as the Omega 3s reduce your risk for heart attack. The oil in fish (especially dark fish like salmon) is high in polyunsaturated fat which contain the omega 3s.
  3. Select foods rich in carotenoids to reduce your risk of certain cancers. Eating lots of orange and deep green leafy vegetables is the best way to get plenty of carotene and Vitamin A in your diet. Try carrots, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, spinach, collard greens, kale and broccoli.
  4. Eat tomatoes and tomato products. Tomatoes are a rich source of lycopene which is a potent antioxidant that may reduce certain cancers. The lycopene in cooked tomatoes including tomato sauce, paste, salsa, canned tomatoes is more easily absorbed than in raw tomatoes.
  5. Choose skinless turkey breast and chicken parts. Turkey is about the leanest of all meats. A 3-ounce portion has less than a gram of fat per ounce if the skin is not consumed. Cook both turkey and chicken with the skin on and then remove before eating. You will keep the meat moist but not consume the extra fat calories from eating the skin.
  6. Trying to Lose Weight? Consume foods with high water content such as fruits and vegetables. Try to get 7-9 servings of fruits and veggies each day and choose recipes that have only small amounts of meat, cheese, and poultry such as soups, casseroles and salads.
  7. Eat at Least 3 servings of whole grains daily. Follow the mypyramid recommendations by going to www.mypyramid.gov . Make sandwiches on whole wheat or whole grain breads. Choose brown rice over white or fried rice. Oatmeal for breakfast will help to stabilize your blood glucose levels, which is great for diabetics. Make healthy carbohydrate choices each day.
  8. Eat nuts instead of meats or other animal protein foods. Many studies have found that consuming walnuts or almonds cut a person's risk for heart disease. Nuts are rich in polyunsaturated fats which lower blood cholesterol and add folate and other B-vitamins. Nuts are also rich in calories, however, so they need to be eaten as a substitute for other protein foods.
  9. Limit fruit juices and eat fruit instead. When choosing fruit juices, make sure you choose 100% fruit juice rather than fruit drinks or fruit punches. A glass of any type of orange juice (fresh, frozen or canned) will supply you with your recommended daily allowance of vitamin C.
  10. Read the labels on muffins. A bran muffin may or may not contain whole wheat flour and may have excess amounts of eggs, oil and saturated fats, as well as, sugar, honey and other sweetners. Some have more than 20 grams of fat per muffin, as much fat as a fast food hamburger, and are more than 500 calories without butter, margarine or jelly.


  1. Rutgers
  2. Executive Dean of Agriculture and Natural Resources
  3. School of Environmental and Biological Sciences