ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (March 1, 2016) -- March is National Nutrition Month and this year's theme is "Savor the flavor of eating right." Eating right is an important part of feeling and looking your best. Also, healthy eating is one of the most powerful tools you have to reduce your risk of chronic disease.

According to the newly released 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a healthy eating pattern emphasizes plenty of vegetables - any kind without added salt, fresh fruits and whole grains; a variety of lean protein choices and small amounts of healthy oils and fats - avocados, flaxseed, olive oil, canola oil and safflower oil. Furthermore, the DGA recommend you reduce your added sugar - less than 12 teaspoons per day or 48 grams per day, sodium - less than 2,300 milligrams per day and and saturated and trans-fats intake - pre-packaged cakes, cookies, pies, whole milk dairy products and red meats.

The DGA are science-based recommendations aimed at helping you make better overall food choices. Small, positive changes in your diet can lead to an improvement in your performance - both mental and physical. Start making changes today and savor the flavor of eating right!

Small changes to help you savor the flavor of eating right:

• Spruce up your leafy green salad with a small handful of nuts - almonds, walnuts and pine nuts and chunks of fresh fruit - apples, pears and oranges. Top it off with a small amount of oil and vinegar-based dressing.

• For work, pack a small container of cucumber slices, sugar snap peas, celery/carrot sticks or sliced jicama and enjoy with one to two tablespoons of spicy hummus or no sugar-added nut butter.

• Keep fresh fruit or a small container of dried fruit on hand for on-the-go snacking.

• Add an extra handful of veggies - frozen, fresh or low-sodium canned to soups, stews, casseroles and stir-fry recipes.

• Choose 100 percent whole grain bread, brown rice or whole wheat pasta.

• Mix one-half ground turkey and one-half ground beef - 93 percent lean to make chili, hamburgers or spaghetti sauce.

• Mash one-eighth of a ripe avocado and spread it on sandwiches in place of mayonnaise.

• Choose water, freshly brewed unsweetened tea or seltzer with a twist of lemon or lime instead of regular soda.

• Place a bowl of fresh fruit on the counter and keep pre-portioned nuts, whole grain crackers, fresh fruit/veggies and low-sodium popcorn on hand for snacking.

• If you are in the mood for cookies, opt for two instead of three. Slow down and take your time, so you can enjoy every bite.

• Season foods with lemon, herbs and spices instead of salt.

• Cook more often at home and/or modify portions and dishes when dining out. Split an entrée; ask for dressing or high-fat toppings on the side so you can control the portion.

• Choose plain, Greek yogurt and mix in pureed or mashed fresh fruit or muesli.

• Aim for at least two fish/seafood meals per week. Choose baked, grilled or broiled without unhealthy fats/butters.

A registered dietitian or nutritionist can help you interpret and apply the Dietary Guidelines to your lifestyle. For more information on healthy eating, go to www.eatright.org or the Performance Triad at http://armymedicine.mil/Pages/Nutrition.aspx.