Physicians and dietitians emphasize that the food we consume directly impacts our overall health. Nowadays, we frequently hear about the association between certain foods and various health conditions, ranging from diabetes and high blood pressure to cancer. While screening for diseases has improved, prevention remains crucial. Regardless of ethnicity or socioeconomic status, health issues pose a threat to almost everyone. Aside from factors like smoking, alcohol consumption, and lack of exercise, making nutritious choices can significantly reduce the risk. A diet rich in plants and prioritizing healthy options plays a vital role in prevention.
Setting aside the emotional aspect, when we overindulge and make poor food choices, we usually don’t feel good. Many individuals report feeling better after a few days of eating well. The bloating and “sugar fog” seem to dissipate, and mental clarity improves. A binge episode can feel like a hangover. Some people swear by the fact that replacing sugary carb-heavy foods with healthy fruits reduces cravings for unhealthy options. These lifestyle changes can have a profound impact on both physical and mental health. As we approach the warmer months, a plethora of fruits and vegetables become available, offering numerous health benefits.
Let’s explore a list of foods and their benefits that can make a significant difference in overall well-being:
- Spinach: Inhibits the growth of colon polyps that can lead to colon rectal cancer. Rich in vitamins A, C, and K, spinach is also a good source of potassium, fiber, and antioxidants.
- Berries: Packed with antioxidants that protect the body from cell damage contributing to various ailments to the skin, lung, and breast cancer. Berries can be added to desserts, yogurt, cereal, or even enjoyed with french toast. Cherries, in particular, are rich in vitamin C and potassium and can help decrease heart disease and stroke. Blueberries are known to improve brain function, while strawberries offer high amounts of vitamin C, fiber, and potassium.
- Cruciferous Vegetables: This group includes broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. Broccoli is packed with vitamin C, potassium, and beta-carotene. Brussels sprouts contain folate and vitamin B, while cabbage is rich in vitamins K and C. Cauliflower, known for its versatility in dishes like pizza crust, rice, and even steak, has gained popularity. Air frying or grilling these vegetables has become a new and enjoyable way to savor their flavors. Many restaurants have recently added cauliflower pizza and steaks to their menus.
- Tomatoes: Rich in lycopene and beta-carotene, tomatoes offer antioxidants that may have preventive effects on ailments of the prostate, skin, breast, lung, and liver. They are also an excellent source of vitamins A, C, potassium, and fiber.
- Garlic, Onions, Mushrooms: These ingredients can be added to any recipe for added health benefits. Garlic fights harmful free radicals that contribute to cancer while reducing the risk of heart disease. Onions provide vitamin C and fiber. The combination of flavonoids and sulfur-containing compounds in onions is believed to offer cardiovascular and anti-cancer benefits.
Growing up, my mother always told me to eat carrots for good eyesight. Today, we understand that vegetables and fruits offer numerous health benefits. When looking at your plate, ensure it is filled with colorful varieties and take advantage of the abundance of summer fruits. Besides being refreshing and tasty, they are good for you. Challenge yourself to incorporate new fruits and vegetables into your daily food plan. Look up recipes to find creative ways to include these healthy foods in your daily routine. We eat better, we feel better.