Despite their close ties, healthy eating is not necessarily dieting. Eating healthy is more than just a weight-loss fad – it is a lifestyle and a path to physical and mental well-being. Healthy eating means substituting foods abundant in added salt, sugar and trans fats with nutrient-dense foods from all the basic food groups, including fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, lean proteins and whole grains.
People who stick to healthy diets could reap numerous benefits such as developing strong bones, enhanced mood, stellar heart health and boosted immunity. Here are five health benefits you stand to gain from consuming everyday food.
1. Heart Health
Due to widespread unhealthy eating, high blood pressure – a condition that frequently leads to heart failure, heart attack and stroke – has become a cause for concern in the US. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reports that heart disease is the number one cause of death for American adults.
Fortunately, studies have proven that lifestyle changes, including healthy eating and frequent physical activity, can wade off up to 80% of premature heart disease cases. Following a balanced eating plan that needs no special foods such as the DASH diet can reduce blood pressure naturally. The foods recommended in the DASH plan include:
- Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- Low-fat dairy products, vegetable oils, beans, nuts, fish, and poultry
- Less saturated and trans-fat consumption
- Consuming less than 2300 mg of sodium per day while increasing potassium consumption
- Eat and drink less added sugar
2. Reduced Cancer Risk
Frequently eating antioxidant-rich foods can significantly reduce the risk of developing cancer. Foods such as pumpkin, carrots, berries, dark leafy greens, and nuts contain phytochemicals, e.g., vitamins A, C and E, lycopene, and beta-carotene, that protect cells from damage by free radicals.
3. Mood Enhancement
According to a 2016 study, foods with high glycemic loads were found to trigger symptoms of fatigue and mood disorders, including depression. Replacing high glycemic load foods – most refined carbohydrates and foods containing added sugar– with lower glycemic load foods is a significant step towards mental wellness.
4. Weight Loss
Many healthy everyday foods contain lower calories than processed foods. As such, eating more plant-based foods rich in dietary fiber can help you regulate hunger, maintain a moderate weight and mitigate the risk of chronic health concerns – low bone density, heart disease, type II diabetes and more. In a 2018 study, researchers discovered that eating lean proteins and plenty of dietary fiber naturally causes weight loss with minimal calorie intake monitoring.
5. Improve Digestive Track
Many of us suffer from symptoms of upset stomach and irritable bowel syndrome and eating right can have a huge effect on how our body works. For example, clostridium difficile, often called C. diff, is a type of bacterial infection that causes severe diarrhoea and inflammation of the bowel. It is commonly treated with antibiotics. However, a recent study observed the effectiveness of manuka honey on strains of this type of bacteria. This is just one example of how eating simple honey can help different symptoms and improve quality of life.
Healthy everyday foods possess numerous health benefits, from mood enhancement to weight loss and minimizing the risk of chronic diseases. Although the occasional soda or pizza does not hurt, always stay mindful of your day-to-day food choices.