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10 Surprising Benefits of Eating Healthy

10 Surprising Benefits of Eating Healthy

Most of us know that eating healthy is essential for our overall health and well-being. Still, there are so many other benefits to eating healthy that we rarely think about. From improved cognitive ability to better sleep, you may be surprised to learn just how powerful healthy eating can be. Here are 10 surprising benefits of eating healthy that you should consider if you’re struggling to make healthy choices.

A nutritious diet is essential for a healthy lifestyle. A good diet should include nutrient-rich foods from all the key food groups, like lean proteins, whole grains, beneficial fats, and a wide array of fruits and veggies.

Learn more about eating healthy on a budget here!

The Eating Healthy is Too Expensive Healthy Diet Guide Cover Photo

Healthy eating habits can transform your life! Find out why here – we’ll discuss the top 10 benefits of a nutritious diet, including stronger bones, heart health, disease prevention, and a boosted mood. Plus, discover which foods should be swapped out for healthier alternatives.

Better Heart Health

Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the CDC? It’s even more alarming to hear that almost half of all U.S. adults live with some form of cardiovascular disease, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).

Hypertension or high blood pressure is a growing concern in the United States. This condition can lead to various issues, from heart attack to heart failure and stroke. However, you may be able to lower your risk of premature heart disease and stroke diagnoses by up to 80% with simple changes such as healthier eating and more physical activity.

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet includes plenty of heart-healthy foods and recommends:

  • 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
  • keeping sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg daily — ideally 1,500 mg daily — and increasing consumption of potassium, magnesium, and calcium

Eating high-fiber foods is vital to maintain a healthy heart. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), dietary fiber can help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity, and type 2 diabetes and improve blood cholesterol levels. So make sure to get your daily dose of fiber!

The medical community has long known that trans fats pose a severe risk to heart health – they can cause plaque to build up in your arteries and lead to deadly heart attacks and strokes. But even just limiting your intake of certain types of fats can have a significant impact – eliminating trans fats can reduce your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, which can go a long way in protecting your heart!

Reduced Risk of Cancer

Want to protect your cells and reduce your cancer risk? Eating antioxidant-rich foods is the way to go!

Free radicals in the body increase your risk of cancer. However, antioxidants help remove them to lower the likelihood. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes contain antioxidants like beta carotene, lycopene, and vitamins A, C, and E. So include them in your diet for some extra protection!

Foods high in antioxidants include:

  • berries
  • dark, leafy greens
  • pumpkin and carrots
  • nuts and seeds

Obesity can increase an individual’s odds of getting cancer and lead to worse treatment results. Keeping a moderate weight can decrease these risks.

In 2014, researchers found that a diet filled with fruits lessens the likelihood of upper gastrointestinal tract cancer. Furthermore, they discovered that a diet full of vegetables, fruits, and fiber lowers the chance of colorectal cancer, while a diet high in fiber lowers the risk of liver cancer.

Improved Mood and Mental Health

Could what you eat be affecting your mood? Research suggests that it could be the case. In 2016, researchers discovered that diets with a high glycemic load may cause more pronounced symptoms of depression and fatigue.

If you’re looking for a healthier diet, you’ll want to steer clear of refined carbohydrates like soft drinks, cakes, white bread, and biscuits. On the other hand, vegetables, whole fruit, and whole grains have a lower glycemic load and can be part of a healthier diet.

Recent studies have demonstrated that a person’s diet can influence their blood sugar levels, immune response, and gut microbiome composition, which can all impact their mood. Furthermore, the Mediterranean diet has been linked to improved mental health. In contrast, diets high in red meat, processed foods, and fat may worsen mental health.

Improved Gut Health

The colon is home to a diverse array of bacterial communities that are essential for vital metabolic and digestive functions. Some of these strains also produce vitamins K and B, which benefit the colon. Not to mention, they can help ward off pathogenic bacteria and viruses!

Eating a high-fiber diet may reduce inflammation in the gut. Furthermore, a diet full of fibrous veggies, fruits, legumes, and whole grains provides a combination of prebiotics and probiotics that assist beneficial bacteria in the colon.

These fermented foods are rich in probiotics:

  • yogurt
  • kimchi
  • sauerkraut
  • miso
  • kefir

Prebiotics may also help improve a range of digestive issues, including IBS symptoms.

Improved Memory

A healthy diet is essential to keep your brain healthy and sharp. A 2015 study discovered nutrients and foods that protect against cognitive decline and dementia. Ready to start eating smarter? Here are the top picks that can help you maintain a sharp brain:

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

Weight Loss

Did you know that maintaining a healthy weight is essential for reducing your risk of developing chronic health issues? Being overweight or obese can increase your chances of developing conditions like:

  • coronary heart disease
  • type-2 diabetes
  • osteoarthritis
  • stroke
  • hypertension
  • certain mental health conditions
  • some cancers

Eating healthier is a great way to cut calories and stay on track with your weight-loss goals. Load up on vegetables, fruits, and beans to get the nutrients you need while keeping your calorie count low. Need help figuring out how many calories you should be eating each day? Check out the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020–2025 or our calorie calculator to get started!

Nonetheless, maintaining a balanced diet can aid a person in adhering to their daily calorie limit without tracking their calorie consumption. In fact, in 2018, scientists discovered that consuming a fiber and lean protein-rich diet resulted in weight reduction without monitoring calorie intake.

Diabetes Management

A well-balanced diet can help a person with diabetes: 

  • maintain their blood glucose levels
  • keep their blood pressure and cholesterol within target ranges
  • avoid or delay the consequences of diabetes
  • and maintain a healthy weight

It is essential for people with diabetes to restrict their consumption of added sugar. They should also think about avoiding fried foods that are high in saturated and trans fats.

Strong Bones and Teeth

Eating right is essential to ensure strong and healthy bones! With the right balance of calcium and magnesium in your diet, you’ll safeguard against issues like osteoporosis.

The following foods are rich in calcium:

  • dairy
  • kale
  • broccoli
  • canned fish with bones

Additionally, many food manufacturers add calcium to cereals, tofu, and plant-based milk.

Magnesium is abundant in many foods, but some of the best sources include:

  • leafy green vegetables
  • nuts
  • seeds
  • whole grains

Better Sleep

Various factors, such as sleep apnea, can disrupt your sleep patterns.

Sleep apnea occurs when some condition repeatedly blocks your airways during sleep. Common risk factors include obesity and alcohol consumption.

Additionally, reducing alcohol and caffeine intake may help you gain more restful sleep, whether you have sleep apnea or not.

Better Generational Health

Children are like sponges, soaking up the health-related behaviors of the adults around them. Because of this, parents who model healthy eating and exercise habits set a strong example, and their children are likely to follow suit.

Eating at home may be beneficial, too. In fact, in 2018, researchers found that children who regularly shared meals with their families ate more vegetables and fewer sugary foods than those who ate at home less often.

Quick Healthy Diet Tips and Swaps

There are plenty of simple ways to improve your diet, including:

  1. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables: Try to include at least one serving of fresh produce with each meal. Choose a variety of colors to ensure you’re getting a wide range of nutrients.
  2. Incorporate whole grains: Choose whole-grain bread, pasta, and rice instead of refined grains. These provide more fiber and nutrients.
  3. Choose lean protein sources: Opt for chicken, turkey, fish, tofu, and legumes as protein sources. Avoid processed meats like bacon and sausage, as they are high in salt and unhealthy fats. Even protein powder is great in a pinch!
  4. Limit added sugars: Swap drinks high in added sugars, such as soda, for herbal teas or sparkling water, and choose naturally sweet foods like fruit instead of candy.
  5. Drink plenty of water: Water is essential for maintaining good health. Aim for at least 8 cups of water per day.
  6. Eat healthy fats: Incorporate healthy fats like olive oil, avocado, and nuts into your diet. These can help improve cholesterol levels and support heart health.
  7. Practice mindful eating: Take the time to sit down and enjoy your meals without distractions like TV or phone. This can help you be more aware of your portion sizes and tune in to your body’s hunger and fullness cues.
  8. Plan ahead: Prepare healthy meals and snacks in advance, so you have them on hand when you’re short on time or feeling hungry.

You may also benefit from taking a cooking class and learning to incorporate more vegetables into your meals.

The Benefits of Eating Healthy

Eating healthy has many advantages, such as decreasing the chances of heart disease, stroke, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, by adhering to a balanced diet, a person can also enhance their mental well-being and energy levels.

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