Food plays a crucial role in health, with a good, healthy diet having been linked to a reduced risk of various diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular problems and some cancers. Eating healthily also controls cholesterol and blood pressure levels, as well as helping to prevent obesity, osteoporosis, mineral deficiencies and dental cavities. As a general rule of thumb, variety is the best way to ensure a healthy, balanced diet, choosing foods from each of the food groups: dairy, fruits and vegetables, grains, proteins (such as meat and beans) and fats.
Some specific foods promote health far better than others, and these are often referred to as "superfoods." An example of a superfood is the blueberry. These are rich in antioxidants, phytoflavinoids, potassium and vitamin C, helping to prevent heart disease and cancer. Some other superfoods include the following:
- Beans, such as soy
Foods to avoid, on the other hand, include those containing high quantities of solid fats; that is saturated fats and trans fatty acids, cholesterol, salt, added sugars and refined grains.
An unhealthy diet also affects the brain, with poor nutrition affecting the cognitive development of young people, in particular.
Some basic guidelines for healthy eating are to eat between 2 1/2 cups and 6 1/2 cups of fruits and vegetables, as well as between 2 and 3 ounces of whole grains, every day, as part of a balanced diet.