Most, if not all, of us are familiar with the proverbial saying, "You are what you eat." If there was ever any doubt about the truth of this statement, research time and again reinforces that a healthy diet leads to a healthier you, both in mind and body.
Adopting a healthier diet isn't as daunting as it might seem. With a multitude of options available, you can easily prepare your own nutritious meals or opt for ready-made ones.
Let's clarify what "eating healthier" means. It's about prioritising less processed foods and incorporating more fresh produce into your meals, including fruits, whole grains, nuts, vegetables, and lean meats.
Beyond these positive additions, it also involves regulating your overall consumption, and minimising intake of sugar, salt, and oil.
Why Start on Healthy Diet Meal Plans?
Healthy diets can significantly improve various aspects of your physical health. Moreover, they also provide substantial benefits to your mental well-being.
Here are some of the key reasons to build a healthy diet meal plan.
1. Lowers the Risk of Cancer
In today’s urban environments, we’re exposed to something called free radicals, which can potentially increase the risk of developing cancer. Consuming a diet rich in antioxidants, as is common with healthy meal plans, will help neutralise these free radicals.
Vegetables such as leafy greens, pumpkins, and carrots are excellent sources of antioxidants. Similarly, nuts, seeds and most fruits are also rich in these beneficial compounds.
2. Lowers the Risk of Heart Disease
It is well-established that trans fats contribute to a higher risk of heart disease because it raises the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or in other words, bad cholesterol. Adopting a healthy meal plan that excludes trans fats can significantly decrease the risk of developing heart disease.
Moreover, increasing your intake of dietary fibre from fruits and vegetables is an effective strategy for lowering cholesterol levels. High blood cholesterol is a key factor contributing to heart attacks, stroke and blocked arteries.
3. Improved Management of High Blood Pressure
Poorly managed high blood pressure can lead to some serious complications, including, but not limited to, heart failure, kidney damage, and chest pain (angina). Therefore, one of the reasons to build a healthy diet meal plan is to help regulate this condition. A healthy diet reduces the consumption of processed and packaged foods, which typically contain high levels of sodium that can raise blood pressure.
Additionally, a healthy diet encourages more fresh fruits and vegetables. These contain high levels of potassium which counters the effects of sodium. Experts suggest that you incorporate at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day to achieve this.
4. Boosts The Immune System
Studies have shown that a poor diet can impair the immune system. The resultant deficiency in processed or junk foods that are high in salt and sugars, low in nutritional value and lack fresh, whole fruits and vegetables can negatively affect the body’s immune response.
A healthy body needs adequate nutrients to produce essential antibodies, white blood cells and other critical components of the immune system.
Among the dietary nutrients that benefit the immune system include vitamins C and D, as well as minerals, like zinc, selenium and iron. Additionally, the inclusion of high protein foods like eggs, fish and chicken will provide essential amino acids for the production of antibodies and white blood cells. Both of these are essential factors in your body’s defence mechanism.
5. Improve Gut Microflora
Gut health is important, as it is home to both good and bad bacteria. An abundance of bad bacteria can cause you to experience various intestinal problems.
A healthy diet will be rich in prebiotics and probiotics, which will help keep the gut healthy and enhance your intestinal immune system.
Some good sources of probiotics and prebiotics include yogurt, probiotic milk, kimchi and Natto.
6. Helps in Weight Loss
Healthy meal plans empower you to manage your calorie intake effectively. Therefore, they’re perfect for those looking for healthy weight loss. By pre-planning your meals and their portions, you keep track of how many calories you’re consuming on a daily basis.
Attaining and maintaining a healthy weight offers numerous benefits, such as reducing the risk of chronic illnesses including diabetes, heart conditions, among others.
7. Improved Energy and Mood Levels
Have you ever suffered from a ‘post-lunch coma’? This is the drowsy and lethargic feeling after lunch that affects productivity. Well, one way to reduce that from happening is to adopt a healthy meal plan.
A healthy and balanced meal helps to provide vitamins and polyphenols required for better concentration and focus, especially during work and study. Furthermore, foods like fatty fish and berries are also great for boosting memory and preventing the decline of cognitive functions.
Change Your Life with Healthy Diet Meal Plans
Many of the health conditions we face in this day and age can be improved through a simple diet change. Instead of choosing meals laden with grease and unhealthy seasoning levels, opt for healthier choices, such as lean meats, whole grains, fresh produce and the like.
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