There are several benefits to eating the right foods. You can get all the vitamins and minerals you need from what you eat, which is important for maintaining both your physical and mental well being. Eating healthy foods can help you feel more energetic, live longer and it can even help you focus better at work. However, there is a lot of conflicting information about what eating healthy means and you may be confused about what foods you should eat.
What is a Healthy Diet?
Eating healthy includes having a variety of foods in your diet that provide the nutrients you need to give you energy, maintain a healthy weight and help you combat diseases. The nutrients you need to maintain good health include protein, carbohydrates, good fats and water, plus vitamins and minerals.
If you are unsure how to choose healthier foods, you can use the recommendations of the United States Department of Agriculture. They promote eating from the five food groups to maintain a healthy diet. The five food groups are:
- Fresh Fruits
- Fresh Vegetables
- Whole Grains
For adults, the USDA recommends that the five food groups are eaten as followed:
- Fruits: 1 1/2 to 2 cups per day
- Vegetables: 2 1/2 to 3 cups per day
- Proteins: 5 to 6 ounces per day
- Grains: 6 to 8 ounces per day
- Dairy: 3 cups per day
Along with eating from the five food groups, you should restrict eating pre-packaged or fast foods that are often laden with sugar, salt and saturated fats. A steady diet of these foods are one reason that the U.S. has seen an epidemic of obesity among both adults and children.
Besides eating healthy foods, it is also recommended that you get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise three to four times a week. You can exercise more vigorously and more often if you choose to do so, but getting adequate rest is important to your overall well being too.
Benefits of a Healthy Diet
When you eat healthy foods, you can control your weight better and improve your health. However, there are many more benefits from eating a healthy diet. Some of these benefits are listed below.
A Great Smile
You know that having the right amount of calcium in your diet helps strengthen you bones and teeth, but eating yogurt can also keep your smile bright by reducing the bacteria that causes plaque build-up, bad breath and gum disease. Chewing high-fiber fruits and vegetables stimulates saliva, producing antimicrobials, which also reduces bacteria in the mouth.
Good eating habits also help to reduce the release of stress hormones, such as cortisol. Eating foods with Omega 3 fatty acids is not only good for heart health, but for reducing stress. Vitamin C also helps protect against stress hormones as it protects the immune system. Drinking black tea can also help reduce cortisol levels and help you manage stressful events better.
Eating healthy foods helps improve your focus and helps you stay more alert. The antioxidants contained in leafy greens protect your brain cells from damage, which can lead to cognitive decline. There is also some evidence that they can help protect against Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Omega 3 fatty acids also keeps your mind focused and sharp.
There are many other benefits to eating a well balanced, healthy diet. Limiting fatty, sugary foods and adding more vegetables and fruits to your diet will help reduce cardiovascular disease, reduce your blood pressure and help prevent type II diabetes. Eating better will make you feel better, mentally and physically.