What Are the Benefits of Eating Healthy Vs. Unhealthy?
At least 2.7 million people around the world die each year as a result of not getting enough fruits and vegetables in their diets, according to the World Health Organization. Eating a healthy diet instead of an unhealthy diet can help you get all the essential nutrients you need and limit your risk for a number of health conditions.
Healthy vs. Unhealthy Diets
Healthy diets are made up mainly of nutrient-rich foods, such as legumes, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, lean protein and nuts and seeds. Unhealthy diets are high in fat, saturated fat, trans fat, sodium and added sugars. These diets often contain a lot of processed or fast foods that are high in calories but don't contain many nutrients. People following a healthy diet watch their portion sizes so they maintain a healthy weight, since both the quantity and the quality of the food you eat is important for a healthy diet.
If you eat healthy, you are more likely to get enough of the nutrients, like fiber, calcium, vitamin D and potassium, which many Americans don't consume in sufficient amounts. Whole grains, vegetables, legumes, fruits and nuts provide fiber; low-fat diary products and green leafy vegetables provide calcium; fruits and vegetables like bananas, apricots, strawberries, avocado and cucumber are good sources of potassium; and fish, eggs and fortified milk and orange juice contain vitamin D.
Up to 40 percent of cancers may be due, in part, to following an unhealthy diet, according to BreastCancer.org. Unhealthy diets also increase your risk for Type 2 diabetes, obesity and heart disease. The World Health Organization estimates that approximately 2.6 million deaths each year are due to obesity-related illnesses.
Planning your meals ahead of time and allowing yourself a small portion of a less-than-healthy treat once in a while can help you stick to a healthy diet. Following a healthy diet isn't the only thing that matters -- you also need to make healthy lifestyle changes to minimize your disease risk. Exercise regularly, stop smoking and drink only in moderation, if at all.
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