We all know the importance of having a healthy and balanced diet. It’s vital not only to avoid putting on weight, but also to reduce the risk of a whole host of diseases including cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Often it feels as though there’s a lot of conflicting information out there about what kind of diet we should follow, but at its core, healthy eating is actually quite simple. To help you out, here are four food groups that you should be trying to include in your diet—plus a few that you should aim to avoid!
1. Fruits and vegetables
Let’s start with the most obvious. Fruits and vegetables are one of the best sources of a range of vitamins and minerals that we need for a healthy body; plus they lower the risk of a huge number of health conditions. Try to include a variety of different fruit and veg in your diet, as they all provide you with different nutrients—aiming for a broad spectrum of colors is helpful for ensuring you get everything you need.
Legumes covers a wide variety of beans and pulses—such as garbanzo beans, lima beans, kidney beans, and lentils—and they are all loaded with health benefits. This includes decreasing blood sugar levels, lowering cholesterol, and improving gut health. They are also a fantastic source of protein and fiber, making them an excellent replacement for red meat. Tofu, which is made from soybeans, is another great way to include them in your diet.
3. Whole grains
Whole grains are the healthiest form of grains, and include foods such as brown rice, buckwheat, quinoa, millet, whole oats, and whole rye. Naturally high in fiber, they are also packed with vitamins and minerals. Studies suggest that eating whole grains can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke, support healthy digestion, and reduce the chances of developing diabetes or becoming obese. In addition to the grains themselves, products such as pasta and bread made with whole grains are another easy way to consume them.
4. Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds may be small, but they pack a powerful punch when it comes to nutrition. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, as well as protein and essential fats. Plus, they are very easy to add to your diet because you can simply sprinkle a mixed handful on top of almost any meal. Nuts and seeds have been proven to help protect against heart disease, and even promote weight loss.
Foods to avoid
It’s not only about including the good ingredients—we also need to cut out the bad ones. Some of the main foods you should try to limit your consumption of include sugar (in both food and drinks), salt, alcohol, processed meat, and junk food. All of these can increase your risk of a range of health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Of course, it’s ok to treat yourself every now and again, but moderation is key!
To read more on topics like this, check out the Life Tips category