We all know that healthy eating is important. It has many benefits, such as reducing the risk of many commonly diagnosed conditions – including heart disease and diabetes, as well as can boost energy and improve mood, and of course help you maintain a healthy weight. When we eat healthy foods, we are feeding our bodies the essential nutrients that help us thrive. These nutrients include healthy carbohydrates, healthy fats, proteins, water, as well as vitamins and minerals.
Among some of the best foods that you can eat to get these essential nutrients are fruits and vegetables – and, according to a new study conducted by the American Heart Association (AHA), increased consumption of fruits and vegetables can not only improve your overall health as well as significantly reduce the risk of developing some of the illnesses mentioned above, but can also increase your lifespan. The study, which analyzed data from over 2 million people in the United States and other countries, found that individuals who consumed at least two servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables had a decreased risk of developing major chronic illness and an improved change of living longer – while individuals a part of the study who consumed five servings of fruits and vegetables each day saw the lowest risk of premature death by as much as 13%.
When it comes to healthy eating habits in North America, insufficient consumption of fruits and vegetables has long been known to be a significant cause of the diagnosis of many different chronic and non-communicable diseases in individuals of all ages, races and ethnicities – including being linked to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, respiratory diseases, and cancer – and is attributed to as many as 1.7 million deaths worldwide. To improve healthy eating habits, the Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends following Canada’s Food Guide, which not only promotes the consumption of fruits and vegetables, but also suggests incorporating more whole grains and protein-rich foods into our diets (while avoiding foods that are high in sodium, sugar, and saturated fats.)
As for figuring out what fruits and vegetables are best to eat, the AHA study determined that leafy, green vegetables (i.e., lettuce, spinach, and kale), as well as other vegetables and fruits rich in vitamin C and beta carotene (i.e., carrots, berries, and citrus fruits – such as oranges and grapefruit) were among some of the best in improving life expectancy rates. Other fruits and vegetables that are also known to be beneficial to our health include blueberries (known for being high in antioxidants, which protect the cells against free radicals), apples (a source of fibre, potassium, and vitamin’s C and K in addition to some B vitamins), pomegranates (also high in antioxidants, as well as have anti-inflammatory effects), and strawberries (due to their lower glycemic index), just to name a few.