What are the benefits of a healthy eating program? The dictionary definition of healthy eating is ‘eating a healthy and balanced diet; eating less in quantity but more in quality’. The American Heart Association recognizes the importance of eating a healthy, balanced diet and recommends eating a variety of foods in their dietary guidelines. Eating healthy foods helps to reduce your risk for chronic diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis, and other age-related illnesses. In short, healthy eating is essential to your long-term health.
A healthy eating plan includes eating a wide variety of foods that are low in saturated fat, sodium, cholesterol, sugar, and trans fat. A healthy eating plan is one that helps to keep or improve overall physical health: proper weight management, strength, muscle tone, bone health, and healthy functioning of organs and the brain. The objective is to eat a wide variety of healthy foods while avoiding added sugars and calories from fat. Most people can eat at least five servings of fruits and/or vegetables per day and some people have suggested that ten servings per day is the recommended intake.
With regard to carbohydrates, healthy eating plans include a variety of whole grains, brown rice, potatoes, and sweet potatoes. Other carbohydrates that are beneficial to the diet are those that come from plant sources (e.g., legumes, fruits), and those that are unrefined (e.g., refined grains, potatoes, sweets). It is important to choose both whole grains and refined grains wisely since the former contain nutrients that are more difficult to digest, and therefore provide an empty calorie. Refined carbohydrates are digested easily and provide a lot of empty calories.
Vegetables and fruits are rich in nutrients and vitamins. They are also good for you and are filling and delicious. But it is important to avoid unhealthy fats when choosing healthy foods, especially saturated fats, trans fats, fried oils, junk foods, processed meats, and sugar. Healthy eating plans need to include a variety of healthy foods such as whole grains, nuts, fresh fruits and veggies, and lean proteins, particularly fish and poultry.
In addition, lean meats such as skinless chicken, turkey, and low-fat dairy products are excellent on a weight loss diet. When consuming carbohydrates, choose whole wheat bread, pasta, cereal, and rice instead of refined flour pasta and white rice. Eating whole grains helps provide energy and are important for promoting healthy bones and teeth.
Eating a well balanced diet rich in healthy foods is a major step towards being healthy. Most experts recommend having a daily plate full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein, with the addition of nuts, seeds, sea salt, and any leafy greens that you like. If you do not feel like a wholesome plate, add protein powder or a small serving of yogurt to your dinner plate.
Vegetables are a mainstay of a healthy eating plan. Low calorie and fat-free fruits, such as apples, pears, bananas, and peaches are high in many varieties, can be had at any time, are high in water content, and are easy to prepare. Nuts and seeds, such as almonds, cashews, walnuts, pistachios, sunflower seeds, and peanuts all add variety to your diet. Leafy greens are also important for providing a variety of nutrients and are an excellent choice if you have trouble digesting other types of grains and legumes. Frozen vegetables are often a better choice than fresh, especially if you are using a blender.
Freshly squeezed juices are one of the easiest and quickest ways to add flavor to your healthy foods. Juices are also a wonderful source of vitamins and nutrients and are loaded with antioxidants, which can help prevent cancer and reduce the aging process. For most people, replacing a few meals a week is more than enough to keep them on track, but once or twice a week might be necessary to give your diet that extra boost you need to keep your weight in check. There are tons of healthy foods available to add flavor and variety to your diet, and a little imagination can make eating healthy foods even more fun and exciting.