The top 10 benefits of healthy eating and eating fresh vegetables
A healthful diet includes a variety of fruits and vegetables of many colors, whole grains and starches, good fats, and lean proteins.
Weight loss: Losing weight can help to reduce the risk of chronic conditions. If a person is overweight or obese, they have a higher risk of developing several conditions, including:
- heart disease
- non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus
- poor bone density
- some cancers
Reduced cancer risk: An unhealthful diet can lead to obesity, which may increase a person's risk of developing cancer. Weighing within a healthful range may reduce this risk. However, diets rich in fruits and vegetables may help to protect against cancer.
Diabetes management: Eating a healthful diet can help a person with diabetes to:
- lose weight, if required
- manage blood glucose levels
- keep blood pressure and cholesterol within target ranges
- prevent or delay complications of diabetes
It is essential for people with diabetes to limit their intake of foods with added sugar and salt. It is also best to avoid fried foods high in saturated and trans fats.
Heart health and stroke prevention: According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, up to 80 percent of cases of premature heart disease and stroke can be prevented by making lifestyle changes, such as increasing levels of physical activity and eating healthfully.
There is some evidence that vitamin E may prevent blood clots, which can lead to heart attacks. The following foods contain high levels of vitamin E:
- sunflower seeds
- green vegetables
The health of the next generation: Children learn most health-related behaviors from the adults around them, and parents who model healthful eating and exercise habits tend to pass these on.
Strong bones and teeth: A diet with adequate calcium and magnesium is necessary for strong bones and teeth. Keeping the bones healthy is vital in preventing osteoporosis and osteoarthritis later in life.
The following foods are rich in calcium:
- low-fat dairy products
- canned fish with bones
Better mood: Emerging evidence suggests a close relationship between diet and mood. A diet with a high glycemic load includes many refined carbohydrates, such as those found in soft drinks, cakes, white bread, and biscuits. Vegetables, whole fruit, and whole grains have a lower glycemic load. While a healthful diet may improve overall mood, it is essential for people with depression to seek medical care.
Improved memory: A healthful diet may help prevent dementia and cognitive decline.
A study from 2015 identified nutrients and foods that protect against these adverse effects. They found the following to be beneficial:
- vitamin D, C, and E
- omega-3 fatty acids
- flavonoids and polyphenols
Among other diets, the Mediterranean diet incorporates many of these nutrients.
Improved gut health: The colon is full of naturally occurring bacteria, which play important roles in metabolism and digestion.
Certain strains of bacteria also produce vitamins K and B, which benefit the colon. These strains also help to fight harmful bacteria and viruses. A diet low in fiber and high in sugar and fat alters the gut microbiome, increasing inflammation in the area.
Getting a good night's sleep: A variety of factors, including sleep apnea, can disrupt sleep patterns.
Sleep apnea occurs when the airways are repeatedly blocked during sleep. Risk factors include obesity, drinking alcohol, and eating an unhealthful diet. Reducing the consumption of alcohol and caffeine can help to ensure restful sleep, whether or not a person has sleep apnea.