Health Foods That You Should Know About

 Health Foods That You Should Know About

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 Health Foods That You Should Know About

What is healthy food? Searching the term on the Internet brings up many commercial sites designed to sell you the latest in health foods, or health fads. Amazing claims are made about what each new supplement, berry, diet, or food can do for your health and your waistline.

True health foods are those foods that supply exactly what the body needs for optimum health. Although there is conflicting information about the best way to take in this optimal nutrition, as you wade through the literature a clearer picture slowly emerges. There are definitely healthy foods out there, and making an effort to include them in your diet will pay off longevity, fewer diseases, and healthier life.

One of the most important elements of a healthy diet, and one that is significantly lacking in the modern diet, is fiber. The health benefits of including fiber in the diet are numerous. Fiber is not digested by the body but moves through the digestive system to the colon and is then excreted as a stool. High-fiber foods provide bulk to foods, helping you to feel full and avoid overeating. It also slows down digestion, helping to regulate blood sugar levels and insulin levels.

Having adequate fiber reduces constipation and the risk of diverticulitis. Other gastrointestinal disorders which are caused, or exacerbated, by lack of fiber include inflammatory bowel disease, hemorrhoids, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and colon cancer. Adding this wonderfully healthy food to the diet means eating more plant foods and whole grains. There are also many fiber supplements on the market, although these must be used with care. Always remember to increase your water intake when using fiber supplements.

Whole grains, an important source of fiber, are also a healthy food for other reasons. They contain many beneficial phytochemicals, which are chemicals derived from plants or fruit. Phytochemicals in whole grains include lignans, phytic acid, saponins, phytosterols, squalene, oryzanol, tocotrienols, and phenolic compounds. These have antioxidant effects, lower blood cholesterol and protect against diseases like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Many of these beneficial compounds are lost when grains are refined.

Phytonutrients play a very important role in health. Many of the pharmaceutical drugs available today have their origins in plant-derived compounds. Processing of plants often destroys or removes these phytonutrients, so it is important to eat whole, unprocessed foods as much as possible.

Other essential ingredients in the diet are fats, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Water is essential and dehydration can cause many health problems. For good health foods, make sure you include a variety of foods from each of the food groups every day. Cut down on refined foods, excess fats, and sugars, and take in lots of fiber, whole grains, and phytonutrients.

There, isn’t that simple?