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Protein is a very important part of a healthy diet and can be found in meat, eggs, milk, cottage cheese, beans and legumes and tofu. Consider going meatless one to two days a week and using other protein sources. If you are including meat in your meals, remember that it takes only three ounces of lean meat, chicken or fish to equal one serving of protein.

The Mediterranean diet, which limits red meat and emphasizes fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and healthy fats, has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Dietary fiber is found mainly in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Fiber isn't digested by your body and is classified into insoluble fiber or soluble fiber. Insoluble fiber is in whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts and vegetables and does not dissolve in water, thereby helping with the digestive system. Soluble fiber is found in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley and can help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Adding fiber to your diet aids in weight loss by causing you to feel full for a longer time so you are less likely to overeat. Fiber also has fewer calories for the same volume, and slows the absorption of sugar in the intestinal tract, which helps improve blood sugar levels.

When choosing fats, pick unsaturated fat over saturated or trans fat, such as olive oil instead of butter and canola oil for baking. Use sunflower seeds on salads instead of bacon bits. Snack on small handful of nuts rather than potato chips or crackers. Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish can decrease the risk of coronary artery disease by reducing cholesterol levels. Reducing calories from added sugar is also recommended, with less than 100 calories for women and less than 150 calories for men (about 6 teaspoons and 9 teaspoons, respectively) per day. So limit candy, sweets, sugary sodas, blended coffee with flavored syrup and fruit juices, and go easy on the condiments. For information: (www.mayoclinic.com/health/nutrition).

Three weeks to go in the challenge to lose 3,459 pounds.

The participant who has lost the most weight as a percentage of starting weight will win a weekend at Wildhorse Resort and Casino.

Final weigh-ins will be at the Wallowa Memorial Hospital classroom Wednesday, April 14, and Saturday, April 17.

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