Nutritious foods improve health and promote weight loss, but the benefits don’t stop there. Here are 9 hidden perks of healthy eating that don't always get the attention they deserve.
When it comes to your smile, the benefit of healthy food goes beyond strengthening teeth. Yogurt contains microorganisms that may help fight the bad bacteria that cause bad breath, plaque, and gum disease. High-fiber fruits and vegetables that require lots of chewing stimulate saliva with antimicrobials to also reduce bacteria in the mouth. Harvard researchers have also found that fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids may reduce rates of gum disease due to reduced inflammation.
Foods with high water content, such as fruits and vegetables, moisturize the skin and keep you hydrated. They also contain antioxidants to protect against cell damage for younger-looking skin. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, such as salmon, nourish the skin and may help reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
Omega-3 fatty acids protect against spikes in stress hormones, such as cortisol. Vitamin C has been shown to reduce these hormones while protecting the immune system. Magnesium, found in nuts and spinach, helps to keep stress at manageable levels. Black tea has been shown to reduce cortisol after stressful events making it easier for you to recover.
Sodium, carbonation, constipation, and excess air (due to eating too fast) can all lead to a bloated belly. A healthy diet that limits sodium and high-sugar carbonated drinks promotes a flatter stomach. High-fiber foods (such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains) reduce constipation. Slower eating not only makes you more mindful of what you are putting into your mouth, but it also reduces the excess air you swallow that leads to bloating.
Carbohydrate-rich foods are associated with increased serotonin, which is a brain chemical linked to improved mood. Complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, are healthier choices because they will also stabilize blood sugar levels. Healthy foods that contain tryptophan (such as turkey, yogurt, and fish) are associated with improved mood because the body converts tryptophan in to serotonin.
Spikes and rapid drops in blood sugar can result in unhealthy food cravings. Complex carbohydrates and lean proteins help to stabilize blood sugar to prevent these rapid changes. As your diet becomes balanced with nutritious foods, you will find that intense cravings for unhealthy food lessen over time.
Healthy eating requires education. You learn what foods are nutritious, how to select the best quality product, and how to prepare it. As you learn more about healthy eating and incorporate new foods into your diet, your knowledge will increase. Over time, you will be more prepared to make informed nutrition decisions.
One of the top tips for encouraging children to eat healthy foods is to offer a variety. This same method works for adults. Don’t limit yourself to two vegetables and then give up when you decide you don’t like them. Try new ingredients regularly and explore ethnic cuisines. The more you experiment with healthy eating, the greater your willingness to try new things.
Healthy foods boost your brain power, and this means increased productivity at the office. Leafy greens contain antioxidants to protect brain cells from the damage causing cognitive decline. Omega-3 fatty acids are associated with improved concentration and mental alertness. The better your focus and attitude, the more effective you will be at work.