The Importance of Eating a Healthy Diet

Why it’s important to eat a healthy diet: Your diet affects everything from how well you think and feel to your risk of developing serious health conditions, such as cancer and heart disease. One way to ensure that you are eating in line with the latest nutritional research is to follow the Dietary Guidelines, which recommend lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, fish, and nuts; moderate amounts of low-fat dairy; and few refined grains, sweets, and red meats.

Beans

If you’re trying to lose weight, opt for beans instead of animal protein. Beans are high in fiber and low in fat, and their high protein count helps keep you feeling full for longer. Try substituting beans for your proteins 2-3 times per week.

Berries

Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries contain fiber and other beneficial nutrients. Plus, they’re quite filling due to their size and weight. Enjoy them fresh or add them to your cereal for a morning meal that won’t leave you feeling hungry soon after. Berries are also great frozen; simply throw in a handful into your yogurt or morning smoothie. You’ll get some sweetness without any added sugar. If you enjoy canned fruits, be sure to buy low-sugar options; many companies use more than one cup of sugar per can!

Greens

Fruits and vegetables are absolutely packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. And in addition to being important for your overall health, most experts recommend eating more fruits and veggies because they can help you lose weight. If you want to lose weight fast and keep it off, aim for five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. According to one study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, participants who increased their intake of fruits and veggies lost over two pounds more than those who did not—and they were able to keep it off long-term (even when they stopped dieting). Eat at least one serving each of fresh fruits or veg with lunch or dinner—and enjoy several servings at other meals throughout your day.

Herbs & Spices

Spices and herbs may seem like an obvious choice, but they can be overlooked. Any healthy diet should include plenty of vegetables, which you can jazz up with a dash of herbs or spices. If you’re looking for spice inspiration, do an online search for spice blends and check out photos for ideas that might suit your taste buds. Aim to include at least one spice or herb in your daily diet; try crushing them over salads, dips, fruits and veggies or adding them to sauces and soups.

Protein

You’ll probably want to focus on adding more protein to your diet. Protein provides structure and strength for muscles, tendons, bones, hair, skin and nails. It also helps with tissue repair. Sources include meat (like poultry or fish), eggs and dairy products (especially Greek yogurt). Beans are another good source of protein as well as complex carbohydrates—your body’s main source of energy. Choose whole-grain breads, pastas and crackers for quick energy that won’t spike your blood sugar levels. Remember not to overdo proteins; it can raise your LDL cholesterol—the bad kind—and clog arteries in addition to leaving you feeling bloated.

Vegetables

When you’re thinking about eating healthy, think about including plenty of vegetables in your diet. Whether it’s as simple as slicing up peppers and cucumbers and throwing them on a salad or putting together an intricate stir-fry with broccoli, cabbage, carrots, and snap peas—eating fresh produce can greatly impact your health. They’re not only filling and rich in nutrients but they also have very few calories compared to other foods so they don’t pack on pounds like some meals do. And most importantly: all vegetables are low in fat (even if they’re deep fried!). A healthy diet is one that’s filled with leafy greens (like spinach), root veggies (like beets), brightly colored fruits and veggies (like watermelon), beans, nuts and seeds.