This month’s article is from my intern Kenny Kolke, an interdisciplinary health science student at the University of Illinois. This month he decided to write about healthy eating.
If you’re like me, you’ve heard antioxidants are good for you. Now you can learn why they and omega-3s are healthy for us, and find some examples to incorporate into your diet. Enjoy.
Something we’ve all heard from childhood is, “Eat your fruits and vegetables.”
While we’ve always heard this from parents or guardians, they rarely gave any reason other than “They are good for you”.
Let’s look at some aspects of healthy foods, why they are classified as such, and which foods contain these benefits.
Antioxidants are a key aspect of many healthy foods. The reason they are so important is because of the protection they provide to the body.
According to the Mayo Clinic, antioxidants can protect the body from free radicals that can cause cell damage.
This damage can lead to heart disease and in certain types of cancer it can contribute and impair brain function. Reducing free radicals can improve health.
Some foods that can help you with this are leafy greens, berries, brown rice, and nuts.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are also vital to good health. They are fatty acids that are good for the body. It might sound strange to hear that something called a fatty acid is good for you, but your body needs it to function properly.
They have many benefits including lowering blood pressure, improving heart health, and combating the mental decline of aging.
Cold water fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which makes them a good choice for starters. Almonds, eggs, and most leafy green vegetables also contain omega-3 fatty acids.
Most would assume that cholesterol is bad for you and causes heart problems. You would be correct about one type: LDL, also known as bad cholesterol.
However, there is another type of cholesterol known as HDL that is good for you. The main difference between the two is how they interact with your blood vessels.
According to Harvard Health, HDL can protect your arteries from plaque build-up and metabolize them in the liver. On the other hand, LDL stays in your system and can form plaque in the arteries, causing decreased blood flow to all parts of the body, which can lead to heart problems or even strokes.
It is important to have enough HDL in the body while keeping LDL low for a healthy diet.
Eating foods low in saturated fat is a great way to limit LDL. Making general improvements to your diet (such as those listed earlier) and increasing physical activity can help improve HDL levels.
What is the next step after knowing some aspects of these foods and what makes them healthy? Incorporate these foods into your daily diet! Adding foods with antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and LDL cholesterol to your diet is the best way to ensure that you are getting all possible benefits at once.
A quick example of this could be a dinner of salmon cooked with lemon and pepper, with a side dish of spinach and sweet potato. A meal like this ensures that you are getting antioxidants and omega-3s in your diet while also keeping an eye out for foods high in LDL.
Look for other healthy foods to try different combinations and keep your meals fresh and exciting. If you don’t like one type of food don’t worry, there are so many other options. You need to find the ones that work best for you.
Taking steps to incorporate these foods into your daily life will prove beneficial in the long run. So good luck and enjoy new foods!