Eating healthy is a key part of living a healthy lifestyle. From helping to maintain oral health to preventing chronic diseases, your food can significantly impact your overall health and well-being. So what exactly should you be eating to achieve optimal health? Here are some of the best foods for keeping you healthy and happy.
Fruits and Vegetables
Consuming an abundance of fruits and vegetables is essential for maintaining your health. Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber that help keep your body functioning properly. They also provide essential nutrients that help your body build strong bones and muscles. They also protect against cancer and heart disease, reduce inflammation, improve digestion, lower cholesterol, boost immunity, and more. Aim for at least five servings daily to get all the benefits these nutritious foods offer.
Whole grains are an excellent energy source as they contain complex carbohydrates that provide sustained energy throughout the day. They are also packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, protein, and more that help keeps your body functioning optimally. Whole grains can reduce cholesterol levels, promote weight loss, protect against diabetes, increase satiety (fullness), reduce inflammation, and much more. Make sure to incorporate whole grains like oats, quinoa, or brown rice into your daily diet for optimal health benefits.
It may sound counterintuitive, but consuming certain healthy fats can help improve our overall health by reducing inflammation and improving heart health. Omega-3 fatty acids are particularly beneficial as they are essential for proper brain function. These also reduce the risk factors associated with cardiovascular diseases, such as high cholesterol or blood pressure. Healthy fats can also be found in avocados, nuts/seeds, or fatty fish like salmon or mackerel. Ensure you’re incorporating them into your meals regularly.
Risk of Overconsumption
Though eating healthy is essential for optimal health, it is easy to overdo it. Eating too much of any food, even if it’s healthy, can lead to weight gain and other serious health issues such as diabetes or heart disease.
Overconsumption of Healthy Fats
Eating too much of the healthy fats mentioned above can cause weight gain if you overdo it. The recommended daily intake for most adults is around 20-35% of calories from fat. This translates to up to 97 grams daily in a 2,500-calorie diet and up to 66 grams daily for a 2,000-calorie diet. This also applies when using healthy oil for cooking. Too much can add extra calories and lead to weight gain.
What You Can Do:
- Read labels on food packaging and pay attention to portion sizes.
- Aim for two to three servings of healthy fats per day, and use oil sparingly when cooking.
- When using oil, opt for healthier options like olive oil, avocado oil, or flaxseed oil. The recommended amount of oil usage is around two tablespoons per meal.
Overconsumption of Fruits and Vegetables
You may not be aware, but eating too many fruits and vegetables can lead to an imbalance in other nutrients. Fruits and vegetables are high in sugar and carbohydrates. If you don’t balance them out with lean protein and healthy fats, you could be overconsuming sugar without realizing it. Additionally, since fruits contain sugar, too much consumption may affect oral health. Too much sugar may cause cavities or other dental issues, such as tooth decay, that may lead to tooth loss.
What You Can Do: Incorporate lean protein and healthy fats to keep your diet balanced. As a general rule, aim for at least five servings (2-3 cups) of vegetables per day and two servings (1 cup) of fruit per day. Consult your dentist for teeth replacement options if overconsumption leads to teeth loss. They may recommend dental implants, dentures, or bridges for a long-term solution so you can still enjoy healthy eating.
Overconsumption of Grains
Too much grain consumption can lead to weight gain, high cholesterol levels, and an increased risk of diabetes. Grains are also high in carbohydrates. You could be overdoing it if you’re not balancing them with other nutritious foods like lean proteins or healthy fats. It is recommended to limit your grain intake to no more than five to eight ounces per day, with three to six of those ounces being whole grains.
What You Can Do: Start incorporating lean proteins, healthy fats, and vegetables into your diet in addition to grains. To avoid overconsumption, only have one to two servings (1/2 cup) of grains per meal. Swap out white bread, pasta, and rice with healthier options like whole wheat bread, quinoa, or oats. Introducing these grains into your diet can help improve digestion and lower cholesterol levels.
Overall, it is important to be mindful of what and how much you eat. Eating too much of any food, even healthy foods, can lead to weight gain and other health issues. Monitor your portion sizes, focus on eating a balanced diet, and consult a doctor or nutritionist for additional guidance if needed. By following a balanced diet and staying mindful of portion sizes, you can enjoy all the benefits of eating healthy without risking overconsumption. Eating nutritious foods will help keep you energetic, strong, and disease-free! So eat up—but do it responsibly!