Health, Mind & Body

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The relationship between obesity and type 2 diabetes

A healthy diet is essential to long-term health. When coupled with routine exercise, healthy diets can be an effective way for men and women to reduce their risk of contracting a variety of diseases, not to mention the positive impact that such a healthy lifestyle can have on an individual's quality of life. The following are a handful of easily found foods that pack a nutritious punch.

• Whole wheat and multigrain pasta: Once difficult to find, these low-calorie alternatives to traditional pastas are now available in many large chain grocery stores as well as organic marketplaces. That's good news, as a typical two-ounce serving of whole wheat or multigrain pasta typically includes about seven grams of protein and six grams of fiber.

• Nonfat Greek yogurt: Nonfat Greek yogurt is a great low-calorie source of protein, making it a great snack option for men and women who want a snack that can boost their afternoon energy levels without compromising their waistlines. Single serving containers of Greek yogurt tend to be right around six ounces, and that six ounces can include 120 grams of protein or more.

• Russet potatoes: If baked potatoes are a side dish you typically only enjoy in restaurants, you might want to consider eating more of them at home. One medium-sized Russet potato is roughly 170 calories and includes three grams of fiber, five grams of protein and 25 percent of your daily recommended dosage of potassium. Russet potatoes also are high in vitamin C and iron.

• Fresh spinach: Popeye was on to something, as a four cup serving of fresh bagged spinach is just 20 calories and loaded with vitamins and nutrients.  Just one serving of fresh bagged spinach can provide 160 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin A and 40 percent of the daily value of vitamin C. Spinach is also a great source of folic acid, which can help prevent heart disease, stroke and certain types of cancer.

• Dried lentils: Dried lentils make great additions to salads, soups and stews and pack a nutritious punch despite their relatively small serving size. A single serving of dried lentils is 1⁄4 cup, and that serving includes 10 grams of protein and 11 grams of fiber.

• Brown rice: A single 1⁄4 cup serving of brown rice has roughly 20 less calories than a similar serving of traditional white rice, and brown rice is also a much greater source of dietary fiber (1.8 grams) than white rice (0.4 grams). Brown rice also is rich in selenium, which can reduce a person's risk of developing arthritis, certain cancers and heart disease.