Many people find themselves eating unhealthily due to diets full of processed foods, carbohydrates and too many takeaways and snacks, but, it does not have to be that way. The benefits of changing your diet are almost limitless including:
You will be happier: Natural foods stimulate the production of dopamine and other feel-good chemicals in the brain.
You will feel less stress: Certain foods moderate our bodies’ production of the stress hormone cortisol.
You will more easily control your weight: Making healthy choices will save you lots of calories and make watching your weight easy.
You will be more productive: Your brain and body need quality nutrients to work at their optimum. Eating a healthy diet gives your brain fuel and your body energy to spare.
You will age better A healthy diet can help you because fruit and vegetables give your skin the antioxidants it needs to look younger.
You will live longer: Countless studies have shown that those who eat healthy, natural diets live longer than junk food junkies.
There are foods you can eat that are naturally very healthy and also very tasty as well.
Here are 20 healthy food ideas.
One study performed on more than 34,000 women over 20 years found that those who ate apples frequently had the lowest risk of stroke and heart attacks. The powerful antioxidants in apples — epicatechin, kaempferol, epigallocatechins, and quercetin — all play a role. These compounds stop cholesterol from building up as plaque in the arteries. Apples are also a good source of vitamin C, which supports a healthy immune system.
Bananas are a great source of resistant starch, which is known to keep you feeling fuller for a longer period of time. They are a great source of potassium as well, which is a natural electrolyte that lowers blood pressure. If you have hypertension, bananas are the perfect choice for you.
Just half a cup of beans can lower cholesterol levels, giving you plenty of fibre (which fights certain types of cancer) and lots of heart protective flavonoids.
Numerous studies have shown that blueberries can do everything, from improving your memory, to lowering your blood pressure, to improving motor skills, and even speeding up your metabolism.
Cantaloupes are full of water, which means they are a great aid to losing weight. They are also full of vitamin A and C which are important for healthy skin, eyes, and a properly working immune system.
6. Chia seeds
Chia seeds are one of the most nutrient-dense foods anywhere in the world, with one ounce containing 11 grams of healthy fibre, along with good doses of manganese, calcium, protein, and Magnesium, which is a mineral in which most people are deficient
7. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil has multiple health benefits. This natural oil is full of powerful fatty acids called medium chain triglycerides. Eating about two tablespoons of coconut oil each day has been linked in studies to lower levels of belly fat and a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, and it even kills Candida and even certain types of cancer cells.
8. Dark Chocolate
Studies show that eating moderate amounts (one to 1.5 ounces) of dark chocolate each day slightly thins the blood, which can help with blood pressure and heart health. Dark chocolate also improves the immune system while reducing inflammation. The active ingredient in dark chocolate is epicatechin, which keeps the blood vessels flexible. Always choose a dark chocolate that has at least 70% cocoa.
9. Green Tea
Research studies have found that those who drink at least 12 ounces (which is about 1.5 cups) of green tea each day cut their risk of having a heart attack by 50 percent. Also real green tea contains antioxidants called catechins, which stop inflammation as well as fighting the bacteria that causes gum disease.
Kale has special cholesterol lowering benefits, especially after being steamed. It is also a powerful cancer preventer with studies showing that it can lower the risk of at least five different types of cancer. Kale also supports the body’s own natural detoxification system. On top of all this, kale is full of fibre, which is good for your entire digestive system and is known to greatly lower the risk of colon cancer.
The juice from one lemon contains 100 percent or more of your daily requirement for vitamin C. This strengthens bones, is vital for growing new skin, and supports your immune system. Also, the citrus flavonoids in lemons are a natural anti-inflammatory agent. Other studies have found that lemons can help to stop or slow the growth of cancer cells.
Tree nuts are loaded with healthy monounsaturated fats, vitamins, and very low levels of saturated fats. Studies show that people who eat tree nuts, such as pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, pistachios, even pine nuts, at least four days each week, have lower rates of heart disease than those who do not enjoy them.
Oats contain a compound called beta-glucan, which is a type of fibre well-known for lowering cholesterol levels when consumed regularly.
Although pomegranates are not the easiest to eat they can reduce the build-up of plaque in the arteries, which leads to better heart health and lower blood pressure. If you choose to drink the juice instead, make sure that it is pure and organic, not a sugar-filled drink.
Surprisingly perhaps, popcorn is one of the healthiest foods of all. Besides being a great snack, popcorn gives you more healthy polyphenols than kidney beans or cranberries. Popcorn is actually whole grain which helps protect against colon cancer and reduces the risk of heart disease. However, avoid microwave popcorn which contains loads of dioxins and other known carcinogens.
16. Salmon or other Fish
You should try to eat at least two servings of fish each week. Cold water fish, such as salmon, tuna, and sardines are loaded with healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which fight against arthritis and heart disease. Omega-3s can also help to lower blood pressure and prevent irregular heartbeats.
Red, juicy strawberries are high in antioxidants as well as vitamin C. They are also good for your heart, according to research studies.
Tomatoes contain lycopens which work in combination with other vitamins and minerals to prevent chronic disease and cancer. One of the main things about tomatoes is that when they are cooked, the lycopene they contain only becomes more available to the body.
Apart from its high water content, which is perfect for rehydrating the body, this fruit is also a good source of lycopene, the same healthy compound found in tomatoes. Lycopene is important for a healthy heart, good vision, and even the prevention of certain types of cancer.
Several studies have found that those who eat yoghurt each day live longer than those who do not. This is most likely because yogurt with active cultures feeds the good bacteria that live in your digestive system.