More About Healthy Eating

Good nutrition means good health because a healthy diet will give your body the right amount of energy and raw materials you need to stay healthy. Good nutrition will also provide phyto-chemicals and antioxidants that will help keep you feeling young, looking great, and perhaps even disease-free. A bad diet, on the other hand, will give you too many or too few calories, not enough vitamins and minerals, and will actually make you need more of the antioxidants that you aren't getting. The foods you choose to eat can do so much more than fill up your stomach. Eating a healthy diet may help to reduce your risk of certain health conditions, while eating a poor quality diet might increase your chances of feeling bad of becoming ill.


Benefits of Healthy Eating

  • Reduce your risk of illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes
  • Help you defend against depression and stabilize your mood
  • Boost your energy
  • Sharpen your memory
  • Help you to sleep better and feel more rested when you wake up
  • Help to shield against disease by improving bodily functions and helping to improve immune system.
  • Help reduce your stress levels
  • Help to lose weight more easily and maintain it long term


Why should you make healthy choices?

When you eat a food, you don't eat just a carbohydrate, fat or protein. You eat a piece of apple pie, a steak, or a lump of mashed potatoes. Most of the foods you eat are made up of varying amounts of all three of these nutrition components. Good nutrition means getting the right balance of carbohydrates, fats and proteins, plus the required vitamins and minerals. Great nutrition means getting a lot of the phytochemicals and antioxidants, too.

Take carbohydrates for example: What are good carbs, what are bad carbs, and what difference does it make? Since your body breaks them all down into individual units, the carbohydrates themselves aren't necessarily good or bad. The problems occur when you eat too many, or if the other ingredients in the food containing the carbohydrates aren't so good. For example, a chocolate covered donut contains lots of sugar and white flour; if you eat too many of them, you will take in extra calories that will be stored in your body as fat. The donut also contains lots of fats, probably trans-fats, that can raise your risk of heart disease. The donut doesn't provide you with much in the way of vitamins, minerals or other substances, such as natural anti-oxidants or healthy fatty acids. When you think of it this way, that donut may not sound so good any more. An example of a good source of carbohydrates would be almost any fruit or vegetable. These options allow you to get the carbohydrates you need for energy, plus fiber for a healthy digestive system, vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants. About half of your daily calories should come from carbohydrates. Those carbs should come from fruits, vegetables and 100% whole grain breads and cereals -- not from candy, sodas and pastries.

This concept works with proteins and fats, too. A healthy protein source is one that does not add extra unhealthy fats and hopefully offers some fats that are good for you, like navy beans. These beans provide protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates. An example of an unhealthy protein is bacon. Bacon, and other processed meats like it, contain lots of saturated fats and calories, which can impact your heart health, expand your waistline, and even increase your risk of cancer.

Healthy fats come from foods that contain polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats, like olive oil, fish, walnuts, soy, flax seeds and canola oil. While these fats and oils contain a lot of calories, you do need the fatty acids they provide. Unfortunately, there are a lot of unhealthy fats to be aware of. Saturated fats in red meats and trans fats, found in some stick margarines, baked goods and processed foods, are very bad for your health.