March marks National Nutrition Month, a campaign to increase awareness of the importance of healthy foods. The organizers encourage people to take charge of their own health and be proactive in reducing their risk for chronic diseases, which include heart disease and diabetes.The crusade urges people to assess the nutritional content of the foods that they eat and commit to a diet that supports strong, long-term health.

Muscle-Building Nutrients

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National Nutrition Month makes a great excuse to redouble your efforts to eat right. If you’re seeking a leaner, more muscular body, focus on the following foods. They are low in fat and promote muscle growth.

  • Dietary protein – During the process of muscle growth, the muscles create new proteins from the amino acids present in the cells. Consuming protein allows the muscle fibers to increase, resulting in more bulk. Protein-rich foods include meat, poultry, and dairy products.
  • Calcium – This mineral is important for the formation of strong bones and teeth. It is also crucial for energy metabolism and muscle contraction. When the body lacks calcium, it will release calcitriol, a hormone that causes the body to store fat. Calcium-rich foods include almonds, cheese, sardines, yogurt, and sesame seeds.
  • Zinc – Zinc is necessary for muscle growth. The zinc in the body cells combines with different proteins to help with functions such as influencing growth hormones. The body benefits from a small, daily dose of zinc. Lentils are a rich source of zinc.
  • Vitamin C – This antioxidant helps in metabolizing carbohydrates into fuel. Vitamin C protects the body from oxidative stress resulting from exercising. It also helps with the absorption of iron and provides protection against infection. Vitamin C can be sourced from broccoli, citrus fruits, blackcurrants, and green peppers.
  • Iron – Iron is an essential part of hemoglobin, a red protein that transports oxygen from lungs to muscles. Iron is also responsible for maintaining energy and keeping the immune system strong. Iron can be sourced from venison, sardines, bran cereals, and dried apricots.

Other good muscle food includes Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, copper, magnesium, and riboflavin. The healthier you eat, the more likely you are to get enough of these all-important nutrients and look and feel your best.