Promoting Balanced Diets Featuring Key Nutrients
Consuming a balanced diet that includes a wide variety of nutritious foods is always advised, but ensuring proper nutrition is even more critical when dealing with lead exposure. The 2015 to 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (Dietary Guidelines, or DGAs) provide important guidance to help Americans make healthy food and beverage choices. Choose MyPlate presents this guidance in easy-to-understand language that can help people to adopt healthy habits.
Key Nutrients Sources
In addition to an all-around healthy diet, consuming vitamin C, iron, and calcium is especially important for those in an area impacted by lead exposure. These three key nutrients have been shown to help limit the absorption of lead by the body. These nutrients can be obtained by eating certain foods, such as:
- Leafy Green Vegetables
- Low-Fat / Fat-Free Milk (or calcium-fortified non-dairy milk such as soy milk)
- Peanut Butter
- Lean Meat and Poultry
- Whole Grains
- Vitamin C:
- Fruits, especially citrus
- Vegetables including red and green peppers
Food & Nutrition Service Programs
A variety of Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) programs can be leveraged to help families in need meet the Dietary Guidelines and obtain foods that are rich in the three key nutrients. Many of these programs also educate participants in affected areas on how to select, prepare, and consume the foods they need to maintain a healthy diet inclusive of the key nutrients. For more information about these programs and others, visit the FNS website.
To achieve the maximum benefit of these nutrition assistance programs, anyone living, working, and/or attending school in an area affected by lead exposure who is eligible for one or more of these programs is encouraged to apply.
Child nutrition programs include the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Child and Adult Care Food Program, and Summer Meals Programs, among others.
The Food Distribution Program for Indian Reservations provides USDA Foods to eligible households living on Indian reservations.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provides eligible low-income individuals and families with a monthly allotment to use on food purchases at authorized stores and farmers markets.
The Emergency Food Assistance Program helps supplement the diets of low-income Americans, including the elderly, by providing emergency food assistance at no cost to participants.
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children provides a monthly food package to low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum mothers, infants, and children up to age 5 who are considered nutritionally at-risk.