Remember the piggy bank you had as a kid? You saved for months -- maybe even years -- for that special treat. Your body is no different. Many small, frequent investments in your health can pay big dividends far into the future.
Here are five small choices you can make each day that can provide a big payoff:
1. Eat a wholesome morning meal
If you think you’re saving calories by skipping breakfast, think again. Breakfast is the key to getting your metabolism revved for the day. It’s also the perfect opportunity to get closer to the 25 g of dietary fiber you should aim for daily, including the heart-healthy soluble type fiber found in oats and psyllium. Try topping your bowl of cereal with your favorite fruit for even more fiber -- and flavor -- to start your day
2. Explore healthy oils
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can lower your cholesterol, but olive oil is just the beginning. Whether you’re cooking or making salad dressing, various plants offer delicious and distinctly different oils, such as almond, grapeseed, sunflower, hazelnut, flaxseed and hemp. Some oils, like almond and sunflower, can sustain high temperatures for cooking, while others, like flaxseed oil, should be enjoyed at room temperature. But don’t ruin a good thing. Even healthy fats should be enjoyed in moderation.
3. Make more small trips
As you strive for 30 minutes a day of moderate activity, consider breaking up long sessions of sitting -- every hour, if possible. Instead of sending another email to a colleague, take a walk to his or her desk. Maybe stop in the kitchen for a glass of water along the way. Taking short walks throughout the day not only protects your heart, it can also help relieve tension, depression and anger.
4. Laugh -- a lot
Call your funniest friend, click on that cat video, or pick up the funny papers. When it comes to dealing with life’s everyday stressors, it doesn’t matter what makes you laugh -- just find a way to do it every day. Besides, if you hear a good joke, you can pass it on and make someone else smile.
5. Eat by color
Try adding brightly colored vegetables to your meals throughout the week. Most vegetables have some fiber, but they don’t all have the same vitamins and minerals. The antioxidants that make eggplants purple or create the dark green found in kale offer different health benefits, such as improving memory function or supporting a healthy immune system.
By enjoying vegetables from across the color spectrum, you can ensure you’re getting all the vitamins and minerals nature has to offer.