The typical American diet includes too much animal proteins and processed foods and neglects to include enough plants and whole foods. In the long run, this can have very real health consequences.
What is a Healthy Diet
Healthy diets emphasize fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean animal proteins, like chicken and fish, and low fat dairy. Healthy diets discourage overconsumption of red meat, trans fats and saturated fats, sugars and processed foods.
Benefits for the Heart
Eating unsaturated fats and fiber has been shown to lower cholesterol, blood pressure and your overall risk of heart disease. The April 2009 issue of The Archives of Internal Medicine published a complex survey of almost 200 studies and 1 million participants. The researchers confirmed that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and unsaturated fats contributes to improved heart health.
People who eat less calorie dense foods like fruits and vegetables tend to weigh less. Leaner cuts of meat and lower fat dairy contain less calories but still fill you up.
Healthy foods, particularly richly colored fruits and vegetables, contain antioxidants which fight free radicals that can cause cells to mutate and become cancerous. The American Heart Association, The World Cancer Research Fund, the American Institute for Cancer Research and the National Cancer Institute all recommend a diet high in fruits and vegetables to maximize antioxidant intake.
Popping a vitamin and bunch of supplements will not be as effective as a healthy diet full of whole foods. The body better digests and breaks down the components in whole foods and can make better use of them.