1. 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.
2. 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.
3. Diabetes management
Eating a healthful diet can help a person with diabetes to:
- lose weight, if required
- manage blood glucose levels
- keep blood pressure and 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
4. 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.
According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, up to 80 percent of cases of premature heart disease and stroke can be prevented by making lifestyle changes, such as increasing levels of physical activity and eating healthfully.
5. The health of the next generation
Children learn most health-related behaviors from the adults around them, and parents who model healthful eating and exercise habits tend to pass these on.
Eating at home may also help. In 2018, researchers found that children who regularly had meals with their families ate more vegetables and fewer sugary foods than their peers who ate at home less frequently.
In addition, children who participate in gardening and cooking at home may be more likely to make healthful dietary and lifestyle choices.
6. Strong bones and teeth
The following foods are rich in calcium:
- Low-fat dairy products, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, canned fish with bones, tofu, legumes
- Cereals and plant-based milk are fortified with calcium.
- Magnesium is abundant in many foods, and the best sources are leafy green vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
7. Better mood
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.
8. Improved memory
A healthful diet may help prevent dementia and cognitive decline. A study from 2015 identified nutrients and foods that protect against these adverse effects. They found the following to be beneficial:
Among other diets, the Mediterranean diet incorporates many of these nutrients.
9. 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 to 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. However, a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains provides a combination of prebiotics and probiotics that help good bacteria to thrive in the colon.
Fermented foods, such as yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, and kefir, are rich in probiotics. Fiber is an easily accessible prebiotic, and it is abundant in legumes, grains, fruits, and vegetables. Fiber also promotes regular bowel movements, which can help to prevent bowel cancer and diverticulitis.
10. Getting a good night’s sleep
A variety of factors, including sleep apnea, can disrupt sleep patterns. Sleep apnea occurs when the airways are repeatedly blocked during sleep. Risk factors include obesity, drinking alcohol, and eating an unhealthful diet.
Reducing the consumption of alcohol and caffeine can help to ensure restful sleep, whether or not a person has sleep apnea.