National Women’s Health Week empowers and encourages women to make health their top priority. The theme for this year is “It’s Your Time.” This is a great way to remember that there is no better time than now to take control of your physical and mental health. And, one of the best places to start is with the food you eat.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health has resources to help get you eating a more nutritious diet in no time! The National Women’s Health Week website includes tools like MyPlate, the USDA Nutrient Database and the Nutrition Facts Label on food packages. Take some time this week to explore each of these tools for living a healthier lifestyle and try these four tips for better nutrition:

1. Eat more fruits and vegetables.

These contain vitamins, mineral and fiber to help protect us from chronic disease.  According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, people who eat more fruits and vegetables have decreased incidence of chronic disease.

2. Make at least half of your grains whole grains on a daily basis.

Grains contain B vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folate, and minerals such as iron. Whole grains are a source of magnesium and selenium. Consuming dietary fiber from foods like whole grains has been shown to reduce risk of chronic diseases like heart disease or type 2 diabetes.

It’s easy to make nutritious changes to your diet with this delicious Caribbean Peanut Chicken Salad.

3. Eat peanuts.

  • Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, including peanuts, as part of a diet low in saturated and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • Peanuts are naturally trans fat and cholesterol free and are sources or polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat (fats that you should eat more often).
  • It’s your time to incorporate peanuts into your daily diet! The fatty acids provided by poly- and monounsaturated fats are essential to health. We often think of fat as bad, but this is not true at all! Our body needs fat for energy and cell growth, to protect our organs, absorb nutrients and produce hormones.  By eating more poly- and monounsaturated fat, we can actually reduce the level of bad cholesterol in our bodies.

4. Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) versions of milk, cheese, yogurt and other milk products. You will still get the calcium without the extra fat.

Try this Caribbean Chicken Salad with Peanuts to incorporate a few of the nutritious habits mentioned above!

This post was written by NPB intern Brittany Lightsey, a student in the dietetics program at Georgia State University, and reviewed by Sherry Coleman Collins, MS, RD, LD.