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What are the benefits of eating healthy? Top 5 benefits of a healthful diet

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A healthful diet typically includes nutrient-dense foods from all major food groups, including lean proteins, whole grains, healthful fats, and fruits and vegetables of many colors. Healthful eating also means replacing foods that contain trans fats, added salt, and sugar with more nutritious options.

 

 

Following a healthful diet has many health benefits, including building strong bones, protecting the heart, preventing disease, and boosting mood. This article looks at the top 5 benefits of a healthful diet, and the evidence behind them.

1. Heart health

 

 

Some sources report that it is possible to prevent up to 80% of premature heart disease and stroke diagnoses with lifestyle changes, such as increasing physical activity and healthful eating. The foods people eat can reduce their blood pressure and help keep their heart healthy.

 

 

The dietary approaches to stop hypertension diet, known as the DASH dietTrusted Source, includes plenty of healthful foods for the heart. The program recommends the following:

eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains

  • choosing fat-free or low fat dairy products, fish, poultry, beans, nuts, and vegetable oils
  • limiting saturated and trans fat intake, such as fatty meats and full-fat dairy products
  • limiting drinks and foods that contain added sugars
  • restricting sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams per day — ideally 1,500 mg daily— and increasing consumption of potassium, magnesium, and calcium

2. Reduced cancer risk

 

 

 

 

Eating foods that contain antioxidants can reduce a person’s risk of developing cancer by protecting cells from damage. The presence of free radicals in the body increases the risk of cancer, but antioxidants help remove them to lower the likelihood of this disease.

Many phytochemicals found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes act as antioxidants, including beta-carotene, lycopene, and vitamins A, C, and E. According to the National Cancer Institute, though humans trials are inconclusive, there ar

e laboratory and animal studies that link certain antioxidants to a reduced incidence of free radical damage due to cancer.

Foods high in antioxidants include:

  • berries such as blueberries and raspberries
  • dark leafy greens
  • pumpkin and carrots
  • nuts and seeds

3. Better mood


Some evidence suggests a close relationship between diet and mood. In 2016, researchers found that diets with a high glycemic load may trigger increased symptoms of depression and fatigue.

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. If a person suspects they have symptoms of depression, talking to a doctor or mental health professional can help.

4. 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 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.

5. Improved memory


A healthful diet may help maintain cognition and brain health.

A 2015 study identified nutrients and foods that protect against cognitive decline and dementia. The researchers found the following to be beneficial:

  • vitamin D, vitamin C, and vitamin E
  • omega-3 fatty acids
  • flavonoids and polyphenols
  • fish

Among other diets, the Mediterranean diet incorporates many of these nutrients.

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