No matter what your age, your daily food choices can make a huge difference in your overall health and in how you feel and look. Eating a healthy, balanced diet daily provides the nutrients your body needs to keep your bones, organs and muscles in optimum shape. These nutrients include fats, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals. Healthy eating may also help you maintain a healthy weight, boost your heart health, prevent diabetes and improve your brain function.
Eating the right foods can help you manage your weight better. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, eating a healthy diet that is low in saturated fats and includes lots of fruits and vegetables and a moderate amount of unsaturated fat can help maintain a stable weight. Furthermore, foods that have a gentler effect on blood sugar, such as steel-cut oats, whole-grain breads, beans and wheat berries, may be beneficial for weight control. Moreover, choosing the proper portion sizes of the foods is also important when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight.
Better Heart Health
Consuming a balanced diet with lots of high-fiber foods, such as nuts, legumes, whole grains and fruits and vegetables, will help ensure that your heart works at optimal efficiency, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Choose deeply colored fruits and vegetables as they have the highest micronutrient content. Good choices include peaches, spinach, berries and carrots. To reduce your risk of death from heart disease, eat oily fish, such as mackerel, salmon and trout, twice a week. Oily fish contain substantial amounts of omega-3 fatty acids that are beneficial for your heart.
By making healthy food choices, you can protect yourself from diabetes. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, eating a diet rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can help decrease your risk of developing diabetes. Olive oil, canola oil, avocados, seeds and nuts are the go-to choices. Whole-grain foods also offer protection against diabetes, says the Harvard School of Public Health. The bran and fiber in whole grains prevent digestive enzymes from converting starch into glucose, leading to gradual rises in blood sugar and insulin, and a lower glycemic index. As a consequence, they put less stress on your body’s insulin-making machinery and thus may help prevent type-2 diabetes. In addition, whole grains are loaded with phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals that may help cut diabetes risk.
Improved Brain Function
With good nutrition and healthy eating habits, you can be on your way to improving your day-to-day mental health and well-being. Foods rich in B vitamins, particularly vitamins B-6 and B-12 and folic acid, can help reduce your homocysteine levels. High levels of homocysteine have been tied to increased risk of dementia, according to the Harvard Medical School. Good food sources of B vitamins include leafy green vegetables, fortified cereals and grains. Omega-3 fatty acids help improve memory and learning and battle mood disorders, schizophrenia, dementia and depression, says Fernando Gómez-Pinilla, a professor of physiological science at the University of California, Los Angeles.
- NIHSeniorHealth: Benefits of Eating Well
- Harvard School of Public Health: How to Get to Your Healthy Weight
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Heart-Healthy Diet
- Harvard School of Public Health: Preventing Diabetes
- Harvard School of Public Health: Simple Steps to Preventing Diabetes
- Harvard Medical School - Family Health Guide: 12 Ways to Keep Your Brain Young
- UCLA Newsroom: Scientists Learn How What You Eat Affects Your Brain — and Those of Your Kids