Healthy Eating

Good nutrition is essential in keeping Floridians healthy.

People with healthy eating habits live longer and are at lower risk for serious health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. For people with chronic diseases, healthy eating can help manage these conditions and prevent complications. Healthy eating is one of the biggest factors in having better health overall. Learn more about healthy eating at MyPlate.gov and Living Healthy in Florida. Also take a look, Hooked recipe book (PDF) and Go Fish! Some Fish! No Fish! (PDF) [kids book].

Healthy Eating Tips:

  • Add healthy fats. Good fats are a critical part of a health diet. Foods with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are important for your brain and heart. Limit foods with trans fats, which increase the risk for heart disease. Good sources of healthy fats include olive oil, nuts, seeds, certain types of fish, and avocados.
  • Reduce sodium intake. Sodium increases blood pressure, which raises the risk for heart disease and stroke. About 90% of Americans 2 years old or older consume too much sodium. For most people ages 14 years and older, sodium should not exceed 2,300 mg per day.
  • Increase fiber intake. Fiber in your diet not only keeps you regular, it also helps you feel fuller longer. Fiber also helps control blood sugar and lowers cholesterol levels. Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes (beans and peas) are good sources of fiber.
  • Aim for food variety. Foods like dark, leafy greens, oranges and tomatoes—even fresh herbs—are loaded with vitamins, fiber, and minerals.

Micronutrients

Micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) are critical for several important bodily functions. Vitamins and minerals are not produced in the body, except for vitamin D. Instead, they’re consumed through food or supplements.

Six essential micronutrients:

  • Iron is critical for motor and cognitive development.
  • Vitamin A supports healthy eyesight and immune system functions.
  • Vitamin D builds strong bones by helping the body absorb calcium. This helps protect older adults from osteoporosis.
  • Iodine is required during pregnancy and infancy for the infant’s healthy growth and cognitive development.
  • Folate (vitamin B9) is essential in the earliest days of fetal growth for healthy development of the brain and spine.
  • Zinc promotes immune functions and helps people resist infectious diseases including pneumonia and malaria. Zinc is also needed for healthy pregnancies.

Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is the best source of nutrition for most infants. It can also reduce the risk for certain health conditions for both infants and mothers.

Benefits of breastfeeding for infants include a reduced risk of:

  • Asthma.
  • Obesity.
  • Type 1 diabetes.
  • Severe lower respiratory disease.
  • Acute otitis media (ear infections).
  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
  • Gastrointestinal infections (diarrhea/vomiting).
  • Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) for preterm infants.

Breastfeeding benefits for mothers include a potentially lower risk of:

  • High blood pressure.
  • Type 2 diabetes.
  • Ovarian cancer.
  • Breast cancer.

Nutrition Access Projects

The Department works to increase access to nutrition throughout the state. Current nutrition access projects include establishing new farmers’ markets in underserved areas and increasing the number of farmers’ markets that accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits; the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) EBT card; and Fresh Access Bucks (FAB).