It is recommended that a healthful diet consists of foods from all food groups, including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that are rich in nutrients.
It is also important to replace foods containing trans fats, added salt, and sugar with healthier options.
Healthful diets are beneficial for several reasons, including preventing disease, building stronger bones, and improving mood.
We examine the top 10 health benefits of a healthy diet and the evidence that supports them.
1. Cardiovascular health
Heart disease is the United States’ leading cause of mortality for adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Almost half of the U.S. adult population lives with cardiovascular disease, according to The American Heart Association (AHA).
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is an increasing concern in the United States. It can lead to strokes, heart attacks, and heart failure.
The possibility of preventing heart disease and stroke diagnoses through lifestyle changes, such as increased physical activity and a nutrient-dense diet, is reported to be possible in some sources.
The foods people eat can help them maintain a healthy heart and reduce their blood pressure.
This diet aims to prevent hypertension by including plenty of heart-healthy foods. Some of the recommended foods are:
- By eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- Fat-free or low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, legumes, nuts, and vegetable oils are healthier options
- Consuming fatty meats and full-fat dairy products as low as possible in saturated and trans fat
- Drinking less soda and limiting added sugars
- Aim for less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day – or as much as 1,500 mg each day – and increase potassium, magnesium, and calcium intake
Healthy hearts require high fiber foods as well.
In accordance with the AHA, dietary fiber is beneficial for lowering blood cholesterol, preventing heart disease, strokes, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
The medical community has long been aware of the link between trans fats and heart diseases, including coronary heart disease.
It is also possible to improve heart health by limiting certain types of fats. The elimination of trans fats reduces LDL cholesterol levels, for instance. In addition to causing plaque to accumulate within the arteries, this type of cholesterol also makes heart attacks and strokes more likely.
Heart health can also be improved by reducing blood pressure. Limiting the amount of sodium consumed daily to 1,500 milligrams will help individuals achieve this goal.
People who wish to lower their blood pressure should avoid processed and fast foods that are laden with salt.
2. Cancer risk is reduced
Antioxidants protect cells from damage, reducing the risk of cancer for those who consume them.
Antioxidants help remove free radicals from the body, lowering the likelihood of cancer. Free radicals increase cancer risk in the body.
Beta-carotene, lycopene, and vitamins A, C, and E act as antioxidants in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes.
In spite of inconclusive human trials, laboratory and animal studies link a number of antioxidants to a reduction in the incidence of free radical damage linked to cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Antioxidants are found in:
- Blueberries, raspberries, and other berries
- Greens that are dark in color
- Carrots and pumpkin
- Seeds and nuts
Overweight people are more likely to develop cancer and have worse outcomes than those who aren’t overweight. Staying at a moderate weight can reduce these risks.
Among high-fruit diets, researchers observed a lower risk of upper gastrointestinal tract cancer in 2014.
Moreover, they discovered that a diet high in vegetables, fruits, and fiber also reduced the risk of colorectal cancer, as well as liver cancer.
3. Improved mood
There is some evidence that diet and mood are closely related.
The researchers discovered that eating a diet with a high glycemic load might increase fatigue and depression symptoms.
Typical high-glycemic-load foods include soft drinks, cakes, white bread, and biscuits, which are all refined carbohydrates. Grains, fruit, and vegetables have lower glycemic indexes.
A person should seek help from a doctor if they believe they are experiencing symptoms of depression.
4. Gut health is improved
Natural bacteria in the colon play an important role in metabolism and digestion.
The colon can also benefit from vitamin K and B produced by certain strains of bacteria. Besides helping to fight harmful pathogens, these strains are also anti-microbial.
Low fiber diets and high sugar and fat intake alter the gut microbiome, which causes inflammation.
An optimum diet includes a mix of vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains, which and help the colon’s healthy bacteria flourish.
Probiotics can be found in these fermented foods:
Fibrous substances are found in legumes, grains, fruit, and vegetables, and are easily accessible prebiotics. Furthermore, it promotes regular bowel movements, which may reduce the risk of cancer of the colon and diverticulitis.
5. Better memory
Brain health and cognition may be enhanced by a healthy diet.
Several nutrients and foods have been linked to cognitive enhancement and Alzheimer’s disease protection in a 2015 study. Here’s what the researchers discovered:
- Vit. D, vitamin C, and vitamin E
- The omega-3 fatty acid
- Phytochemicals, flavonoids, and polyphenols
Many of these nutrients are included in the Mediterranean diet, among other diets.
6. Losing weight
Moderate weight maintenance is beneficial in reducing chronic health problems. The following conditions are associated with overweight or obesity:
- Having a heart condition
- Diabetes type 2
- Bone density is low
- Cancer in some cases
There are fewer calories in most healthy foods, including fruits, vegetables, and beans.
Based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015–2020, a person can determine how many calories they need.
It is possible to maintain a healthy diet without monitoring calorie intake by avoiding processed foods.
Weight management relies heavily on dietary fiber. There is plenty of dietary fiber in plant-based foods that has the effect of regulating hunger due to its ability to keep people feeling full longer.
According to a study published in 2018, eating a high fiber and high lean protein diet resulted in weight loss without calorie counting.
7. Management of diabetes
People with diabetes can benefit from a healthy diet in the following ways:
- Controlling blood glucose levels
- Maintaining healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- Diabetes complications can be prevented or delayed
- Moderate weight maintenance
A person with diabetes must limit their intake of sugary and salty foods. Moreover, they should refrain from eating fried foods that are high in saturated and trans fats.
8. Healthy bones and teeth
The importance of calcium and magnesium in a diet cannot be overstated. Bone health helps prevent bone issues, including osteoporosis, later in life.
Calcium-rich foods include:
- Bone-in canned fish
- Dairy products with low fat
Calcium is often added to cereals and plant-based milks by food manufacturers.
Leafy green vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains are some of the best sources of magnesium.
9. Sleeping well
There are many factors that can disrupt sleep patterns, including sleep apnea.
During sleep, the airways get repeatedly blocked resulting in sleep apnea. An unhealthy diet, drinking alcohol, and obesity are risk factors.
Sleep apnea sufferers or not can gain restful sleep by reducing caffeine and alcohol intake.
10. Keeping the next generation healthy
Healthy eating and exercise habits tend to be passed on by parents who model healthy eating and exercise habits.
It may also help to eat at home. Those who ate at home more frequently consumed more vegetables and fewer sugary foods than those who ate at home less often.
As well, children who are engaged in home cooking and gardening may make better choices regarding their diet and lifestyle.
Diet tips for a healthy lifestyle – Eating Healthy
Diet can be improved in many small, positive ways, including:
- Switching to herbal tea and water instead of soft drinks
- Having a vegetarian day at least once a week
- Fresh produce should account for around 50% of each meal
- Switching from cow’s milk to plant-based milk
- It is healthier to eat whole fruits rather than juices, which contain less fiber and often contain added sugar
- Eliminate processed meats, which contain a lot of salt and can lead to cancer
- Eggs, tofu, fish, and nuts are examples of sources of lean protein that people can consume
A cooking class can also benefit a person because they will learn how to prepare more vegetables in their meals.
Conclusion – Why is eating healthy beneficial
Many health benefits can be gained from consuming wholesome foods, including a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Aside from boosting one’s mood, it can also boost one’s energy.
The advice of a doctor or dietitian can help you eat healthier.