It goes without saying that healthy eating is beneficial in every respect, whether it is to protect you against harmful diseases or ensuring your overall mental and physical wellbeing. A healthy diet is one that is loaded with nutrient-rich foods belonging to all major food groups like proteins, carbohydrates, healthy fats, vegetables and fruits, and dairy products. To eat healthy, it is important to know which foods are not healthy like trans fats, added sugar or salt, processed foods, etc and avoiding these in your diet. Here are the top 7 benefits of eating healthy:
- Cardiovascular/heart health: Heart problems are known to be one of the main causes for death in the US, and the AHA declares that nearly 50% of the American population suffers from some kind of a heart condition. Common conditions are hypertension, high cholesterol, and blood pressure that can trigger stroke and heart attack. But, simple lifestyle tweaks can go a long way in changing this; of these changes, the most significant is following a healthy diet. It is recommended that you eat meals comprising of more fresh veggies and fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy foods, omega-rich fatty fish, lentils, beans, nuts and seeds, etc. It is advisable to stay away from saturated fats, trans fats, full-fat dairy food, carbonated drinks, drinks and food with added sugar, and excess sodium.
- Lowered cancer risks: When you practice healthy eating, you can protect your body against cancer. Eating antioxidant-rich foods will lower risks of cancer by preventing cell damage. Free radicals in one’s body heighten the risks of cancer and antioxidants can eliminate these. For instance, phytochemicals in vegetables, fruits, legumes, etc are antioxidants like lycopene, vitamins A, E, and C, and beta-carotene. So, remember to eat dark, green, leafy vegetables, berries like raspberries and blueberries, carrots and pumpkins, and nuts and seeds.
- Emotional wellbeing: When you eat healthy you stay happy because diet is inextricably linked with mood. Reports suggest that a high GI diet will heighten the likelihood of fatigue and depression. Such a diet has too much of refined carbs, like those in white bread, cakes, or cookies.
- Better gut health: Eating healthy obviously takes care of your gut health by retaining the healthy bacteria in the gut. These bacteria are needed to promote digestion and faster metabolism. When you have foods low in fiber but containing more fats or sugar you end up increasing inflammation in your gut. Instead, stick to a diet rich in fruits, veggies, whole grains, and legumes to get probiotics and prebiotics like kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, and yogurt that can help the good bacteria to survive in the colon.
- Improved memory: Eating healthy foods can be good for brain health as well; a study in 2015 pinpointed certain foods that help to protect against dementia and cognitive decline. Foods that are rich in vitamins E, C, and D, flavonoids, omega-3 fatty acids, fatty fish, etc are recommended.
- Weight loss: If you are keen to shed those extra pounds, start eating healthy right away. When you are obese, your risks of heart problems, diabetes, and cancers are significantly heightened. Healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, etc are low-calorie foods as compared to frozen or processed meals. Dietary fiber especially helps to maintain an optimum body weight and this can be obtained from plant foods.
- Manage diabetes: The best way to keep your blood glucose levels in check is to eat healthy. It will also ensure that your cholesterol and blood pressure levels are within control.