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What Makes a Food Healthy? Common Questions Answered

May 01, 2018

It is no secret that eating healthy foods helps to promote well being, keep the body at its peak performance and enables people to live longer. They provide the cell within the body numerous health benefits. Foods that are considered "healthy" are foods that provide an ample amount of nutrients, are low in fat, low in polyunsaturated fatty acids, high in antioxidants and are not toxic to the body. Research has shown that a diet rich in lean meats such as fish and chicken, leafy greens, and cruciferous vegetables protect the body from damage that causes chronic conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.

What Truly Makes Food Healthy?

Nutrient dense foods are healthy to eat. Nutrient dense foods are foods that contain high amounts of vitamins and minerals. Many of the daily metabolic processes that occur in the body require vitamins and minerals to progress successfully. Examples of nutrient dense foods are cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussel sprouts and green leafy vegetables such as Swiss Chard, spinach, kale, collard greens, bok choy and bell peppers.

Healthy foods are low in polyunsaturated fatty acids. Foods that are low in fat help to keep cholesterol levels low and assist in the prevention of chronic conditions such as heart disease, hypertension (high blood pressure) and cancer. Lean protein such as chicken and fish along with vegetable protein found in legumes and beans provide the body with the essential amino acids without polyunsaturated fat.

Consuming olive oil and canola oil can lower cholesterol levels in the blood. Both canola oil and olive oil are monounsaturated fatty acids and healthy alternatives to polyunsaturated fatty acids. Monounsaturated fats are important for the cells in the body because they are a key component of the cell membrane. Research has shown that unsaturated fats provide the body with some key health benefits. Besides lowering cholesterol, it can also lower the risk of type 2 diabetes. Oleocanthal, a phytonutrient found in olive oil, reduces inflammation and decreases the risk of breast cancer. .

Healthy Foods contain antioxidants that protect the body and prevent cancer. Antioxidants are molecules that destroy free radicals and protect the body from damage caused by these toxic molecules. Free radicals are toxic chemicals that are by-products of the metabolic reactions that occur in our bodies on a daily basis. These toxins are responsible for damaging DNA and causing genetic mutations to occur within the DNA. Some of these mutations affect the regulation of cell division and can cause cancer. Vitamins C and E are powerful antioxidants. Vitamin C can be found in citrus fruit and vegetables. Other antioxidants include minerals such as selenium and flavonoids found in tea, wine and fruit.

Questions and Answers:

Q: Which foods are the healthiest to eat?

A: Green leafy vegetables and cruciferous vegetables contain a high amount of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants when compared to other vegetables.

Q: What health benefits can these foods provide me?

A: A diet of rich in lean meats such as fish and chicken, leafy greens, and cruciferous vegetables protect the body from damage that causes chronic conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.

Q: Where are the best places to find good quality healthy food?

A: The best places to find good quality, healthy food such as lean meat, vegetables and fruits is at your local farmer's market.

Q: Which is healthier: eating lean meats or eating plant based protein?

A: Both lean meats and plant based protein are healthy to eat. Lean meat such as salmon and chicken and plant protein found in lentils and garbanzo beans have all 20 of the essential amino acids needed to manufacture protein in the body.

Q: Which oils are the healthiest to cook with?

A: Olive oil and canola oil are the healthiest to cook with. They are both monounsaturated fats that lower cholesterol in the bloodstream.

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