What Makes Food Healthy?
Is the food you’re eating today giving your body what it needs to look, feel and be at its best?
Or, like many of us, do you eat foods so laden with damaging ingredients that you regularly feel tired and stressed and your face and body are showing it? There is a better way.
Healthy food is about a lot more than calories, fat content and the very basic nutritional information on the wrapping.
Multinational food manufacturers spend millions on packaging and marketing campaigns to promote their products as being ‘low-fat’, a ‘healthy choice’ or in some way ‘good for you’. But how often are they?
A quick glance at the ingredients list of most processed foods in UK supermarket aisles will soon find additives like hydrogenated vegetable oil, glucose fructose syrup, flavor enhancers, artificial sweeteners, chemical colourings and preservatives.
Many of these substances have been linked to obesity, neurological conditions, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, behavioral problems and a variety of other diseases.
Alongside the potentially damaging effects from the hundreds of different food additives in use today, many, if not most supermarket products are stripped of much of their nutritional content as well.
What makes a food healthy is its nutritional density – all of the antioxidants, enzymes, naturally occurring vitamins and minerals, essential fatty acids, protein, complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber and many other important nutrients normally found in natural foods. These are the important elements our bodies have evolved to make use of and they are essential for good health and disease prevention.
Unfortunately, they are also elements that often get in the way with modern food processing techniques and a high percentage of these beneficial compounds are destroyed or discarded.
The best way to start feeling and looking better, to lose weight and reduce your risk of serious disease is to limit the amount of processed food in your diet and eat more of nature’s healthiest foods.
Choosing the Healthiest Foods
The most nutritious fruits and berries are those that are rich in antioxidants for preventing free radical damage that leads to skin aging and diseases like cancer.
Fruits such as papaya, apples and avocados and berries like goji berries, blackberries and blueberries not only tastes great, when eaten often they can have a dramatic affect on your health and sense of well-being.
The healthiest oils are those that provide a good balance of vital fatty acids. Unfortunately, most people have a very unbalanced and inflammatory fat intake.
Oils such as avocado oil and coconut oil are a rich source of fat soluble nutrients for healthy skin and hair and are far healthier alternatives to use in cooking than processed vegetable oils.
Herbal supplements like turmeric, maca and amla are concentrated sources of nutrition and well worth adding to your diet whenever possible. You often don’t need to take much of these potent herbs before you start noticing the difference in your energy levels.
Nuts and seeds like walnuts, brazil nuts and pumpkin seeds are little nutritional powerhouses and make a far healthier snack than the average high carbohydrate junk foods.
Despite their fat content, nuts and seeds like these can actually help you lose weight and they have many other health benefits.
The healthiest vegetables and greens are some of the most nutritionally complete foods available.
Eating veggies and greens such as pumpkin, broccoli, bok choy and parsley provide a broad range of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, phytonutrients and other beneficial substances for better health.
Eat More Not Less
When most people want to get healthier they go on a diet and try to cut down dramatically on the amount of food they eat. Put very simply, this does not work.
Study after study has shown that while diets may initially result in some lost weight, this is rarely lasts. Much worse, dieting teaches your body to go into conservation mode and become more efficient at storing fat.
Many people are more overweight a couple of months after they start a diet than they were before they began. A better way is to eat more of nature’s healthiest foods that satisfy your body’s nutritional needs, leading to less hunger, more energy and a natural thermogenic effect that melts away excess pounds.
Ahead are some of the healthiest foods to eat for looking good, feeling great and improving your health and well-being. So eat more, not less. Just crowd out the processed junk and make your food healthy for more energy and a better life.
Photo 1: Matt Pettengill / Photo 2: Jennifer Turek