It’s true that you eat to live, but you can also eat healthy to live longer. Modern life has significantly increased the rates of obesity, heart disease, stroke, heart failure, diabetes and cancer. What healthy nutrition can do is help you lose weight, if you are overweight, regulate your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, prevent diseases and, of course, increase your life longevity.
But, healthy eating it doesn’t means to eat a single food that will instantly make you healthier. On the contrary, it comprises a list of foods that will keep your whole body healthy for longer owing to the variety of nutrients and antioxidants they provide.
EAT HEALTHY TO LIVE LONGER
To eat healthy means to eat natural, unprocessed foods because we are genetically adapted to these as opposed to highly-processed foods. Apart from improving your overall health, these foods are also great for weight loss, given that excess weight is the major culprit of most modern diseases.
Most oily fish including salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines and fresh tuna are rich in protein, zinc, selenium, vitamins A and D, and some B vitamins. But, what makes these fish a nutritious healthy food is their high content of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been proved to reduce the risk of heart disease, decrease triglyceride levels, prevent artery clogging and lower blood pressure. Research also confirms that omega-3s are a healthy food for the brain too because they reduce the risk of dementia and cognitive decline.
Although all berries can make you healthier, blueberries stand out owing to their high antioxidant content. In fact, researchers at the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston found that blueberries are the number one food in terms of antioxidant activity in comparison to 40 other fresh fruit and vegetables.
Antioxidants are natural compounds that reduce inflammation, protect cells from free-radical damage, and cut the risk of certain cancers, heart disease, stroke, and age-related brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Aside from antioxidants, blueberries also contain vitamins and minerals, which makes them the perfect contribution to a healthy diet. One serving of this healthy food at least once a week can reduce the risk of brain deterioration in older adults, according to a 2012 study from Harvard University.
On the plus side, blueberries can be easily incorporated in various healthy recipes such as fruit and vegetable smoothies, fresh fruit salads, pies and many more.
This is another healthy food that can help you lose weight, reduce your LDL cholesterol levels and keep your heart healthy owing to its high content of monounsaturated fats. To be more specific, over 65% of the fats in avocadoes are monounsaturates. These fats not only lower bad cholesterol in your blood, but they also raise HDL levels and support the absorption of heart-healthy vitamins including beta-carotene and lycopene in your body.
Avocado also makes the perfect addition to your weight loss diet. If you are wondering how to eat avocado to stay healthy and lose weight at the same time, you can try a wide array of healthy recipes. For instance, you can grill it, use it as a thickener in your smoothies, add it to your favorite ceviche recipe or your chicken soup or simply use a halved avocado as a serving dish for a refreshing salad.
Low in fat, but high in fiber, tomatoes make a great addition to any weight loss plan. Aside from the vitamins A, C, and E, and minerals, such as potassium and iron, tomatoes are also abundant in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that fights free radicals in the body and reduces the risk of cancer, the second leading cause of death in the US. Lycopene also protects against cardiovascular disease.
Not many know that tomatoes are one of those healthy foods that become even healthier when cooked because cooking actually increases and concentrates the amount of healthy nutrients. Some healthy tomato recipes include pasta sauce, tomato soup, or chutney.
According to a study from Michigan State University, healthy nutrition rich in beans and legumes increases the levels of the fatty acid butyrate, which can protect against cancer development.
Another study that included elderly people from several countries, such as Australia, Japan, Sweden, and Greece, found that consumption of only 20g of legumes a day reduced the risk of death by 7-8%.
What makes yoghurt extremely beneficial for your health is the fact that it’s abundant in probiotics, the friendly bacteria similar to those that naturally exist in the human gut. First of all, probiotics promote healthy digestion and absorption of nutrients from food. They also support the immune system and protect against diseases.
Regular consumption of yoghurt (other sources of probiotics too) will not only improve your health on many levels, but also prevent some types of cancer, urinary tract infections, as well as irritable bowel syndrome.
Sweet potatoes are another food to be included on the list of healthy nutrition. For one thing, they are a rich source of potassium, which is extremely beneficial for reducing blood pressure, then vitamin A, which is essential for healthy eyes, bones, and cell growth. Moreover, reproduction and overall health largely depend on this vitamin too.
This healthy food packs about 3g of fiber per 160-calorie potato. Plus, it’s naturally sweet and tasty, which makes it a great addition to many healthy recipes.
Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts, bok choy, collard and kale, have been on the top of the list of super foods for quite some time. These vegetables are abundant in fiber, vitamins and minerals – predominantly beta-carotene, vitamin C, folate (a B vitamin) and potassium. Plus, they contain two plant chemicals that have been proved to have powerful cancer-fighting properties.
A study conducted by Vanderbilt University found that breast cancer survivors in Shanghai who consumed more cruciferous vegetables had reduced risks of death or cancer recurrence during the study period.
If you want to know how to eat healthy, make sure you include this low-calorie dark leafy green vegetable into your dietary regimen. This super healthy food provides many of the vitamins and minerals your body depends on for proper function. For instance, a single cup of spinach packs as much calcium as a cup of milk and thus mineral is vital for your bone health. Plus, spinach is a rich source of magnesium, the essential mineral for your muscular and cardiovascular systems. It also contains vitamin A and vitamin E, which support proper cell function. Eat this leafy green regularly to be healthier and live longer.
The health benefits of green tea are undeniable. This healthy beverage is a staple source of antioxidants that fight free radicals in the body thus preventing the onset of different types of cancer. Plus, green tea is the ideal weight loss tool. If you are wondering how to lose weight, simply include this tea into your daily diet.
Except for helping with weight loss, green tea has also been proved to keep you mentally alert, regulate cholesterol levels, and even prevent sun damage on your skin. Regular consumption of this health-boosting drink can prevent and reduce the development of certain cancers. It’s important to know that healthy nutrition shouldn’t be deficient in green tea.
As you can infer from the name, whole grains contain the ‘whole’ grain, which comprises the nutrient-rich germ, the energy-providing endosperm and the fibre-rich bran layer.
Whole grain foods include whole grain cereals, wholemeal bread, brown rice and wholewheat pasta. Health experts claim that this fiber can protect against a number of diseases including diabetes, heart disease, some cancers, and obesity. It can also reduce cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure.
According to a 2011 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, getting more fiber, especially by switching from refined bread and pasta to whole grains, can reduce the risk of death from any of the above mentioned causes by 22%.
This staple of the Mediterranean cuisine is rich in monounsaturated fats, which are extremely beneficial for a healthy heart and a long life.
There’s also mounting evidence that links this healthy olive to brain health and cancer prevention. To ensure healthy nutrition, consume two tablespoons a day. You can add these to your healthy recipes, such as salads, dressings, sauces and soups.
Nuts such as walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, cashews and peanuts are a rich source of nutrients protein, fiber, calcium, iron, selenium, magnesium and vitamin E. In addition, nuts contain fats, most of which are heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
A number of studies have shown that regular consumption of nuts can reduce the risk of heart disease by between 15% and 51%. Plus, nuts have also been found to decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes because the fiber and magnesium they contain keep blood sugar levels under control.
You may think that if you eat chocolate, you won’t eat healthy, but the thing with the dark type is it’s rich in antioxidants, known as flavonoids. These natural compounds keep your blood vessels healthy and support your heart health.
When including this healthy food into your diet, it’s important to know that the darker the chocolate, the more antioxidants it contains. However, have in mind that even dark chocolate contains fat and calories, so don’t go over the board with it, especially if you’re fighting with excess weight.
Coffee can also take part in healthy nutrition owing to the fact that numerous studies confirm that this healthy beverage can protect against type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, liver disease, and liver cancer. Plus, coffee promotes a healthy heart.
A 2012 study by the National Institutes of Health and AARP which examined health risks, such as smoking, drinking, and eating red meat, found that coffee drinkers, both men and women, tended to live longer.
An earlier study conducted at Harvard University in 2008 revealed that women who drank 2-3 cups of coffee a day had an 18% lower risk of dying, and 26% lower risk if they drank 4-5 cups a day compared to non-coffee drinkers. Women who drank 6 or more cups of coffee per day reduced their risk by 17%.