By Cathleen Crichton-Stuart
A healthful diet includes a variety of fruits and vegetables of many colors, whole grains and starches, good fats, and lean proteins.
Eating healthfully also means avoiding foods with high amounts of added salt and sugar.
In this article, we look at the top 10 benefits of a healthful diet, as well as the evidence behind them.
- 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:
Whole vegetables and fruits are lower in calories than most processed foods. A person looking to lose weight should reduce their calorie intake to no more than what they require each day.
Determining an individual’s calorie requirements is easy using dietary guidelines published by the United States government.
Maintaining a healthful diet free from processed foods can help a person to stay within their daily limit without having to count calories.
Fiber is one element of a healthful diet that is particularly important for managing weight. Plant-based foods contain plenty of dietary fiber, which helps to regulate hunger by making people feel fuller for longer.
In 2018, researchers found that a diet rich in fiber and lean proteins resulted in weight loss without the need for counting calories.
- Reduced cancer risk
Also, in 2014, the American Society of Clinical Oncology reported that obesity contributed to a worse outlook for people with cancer.
However, diets rich in fruits and vegetables may help to protect against cancer.
In a separate study from 2014, researchers found that a diet rich in fruits reduced the risk of cancers of the upper gastrointestinal tract. They also found that a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and fiber lowered the risk of colorectal cancer and that a diet rich in fiber reduced the risk of liver cancer.
Many phytochemicals found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes act as antioxidants, which protect cells from damage that can cause cancer. Some of these antioxidants include beta-carotene, lycopene, and vitamins A, C, and E.
Trials in humans have been inconclusive, but results of laboratory and animal studies have linked certain antioxidants to a reduced incidence of free radical damage associated with cancer.
- Diabetes management
Eating a healthful diet can help a person with diabetes to:
- lose weight, if required
- manage blood glucose levels
- keep blood pressureand 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 figures published in 2017, as many as 92.1 million people in the U.S. have at least one type of cardiovascular disease. These conditions primarily involve the heart or blood vessels….