By: Marisa, Contributing Writer
How foods make an impact on your health and cognitive function
You sit down to eat at a fancy Italian restaurant, and you order a salad. The rest of your family gets pasta with meatballs. How does the salad impact your body compared to your family’s meal? Salads are high in fiber and nutrients, which will help lower cholesterol levels and prevent constipation. Pasta is a good source of energy and can give your body fiber, which can help lower cholesterol and decrease stomach problems. However, eating pasta too often can raise blood sugar and may increase the risk of diabetes. Eating both dishes in moderation can help your body.
Certain foods positively affect your heart. Leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, and collard greens, help both your heart and your brain, as they contain lots of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They are a high source of Vitamin K which helps protect your arteries and promotes proper blood clotting. Greens are high in nitrates which can reduce blood pressure and improve the function of the cells lining blood vessels. Secondly, whole grains are a great food to incorporate into your diet for heart health. Whole grains are high in fiber which will help reduce LDL cholesterol and decrease the risk of heart disease. Additionally, berries such as strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries are rich in antioxidants and anthocyanins which can reduce the risks for heart disease. Avocados are heart-healthy, due to the monounsaturated fats it contains that can reduce cholesterol. Other foods such as beans, dark chocolate, and walnuts, and oil can reduce your risk for heart diseases.
Foods that are high in omega-3, fatty acids, vitamins, and antioxidants positively affect the brain. Research shows plant-based foods such as kale, broccoli, and spinach can reduce age-related decline. Also, fatty fish helps reduce beta-amyloid which is the protein that forms dangerous clumps in patients with Alzheimer's disease. Berries are proven to sharpen and prove memory due to their flavonoids. In a study conducted in 2012, researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that women who consumed 2 or more servings of berries each week delayed memory decline by 2.5 years. A UCLA study proved walnuts have been proved to improve cognitive function.
Water is essential to lung health, as dry lungs are prone to irritations. Each day, you should try to drink six to eight glasses of water. Apples are good for lung health because good lung function is associated with vitamins C, E, and beta-carotene. Apricots are associated with healthy lungs due to vitamin A. Vitamin A supports respiratory tract linings and may lower the risk of lung infections. Beans are a good source of antioxidants that fight off free radicals that may damage the lungs. Berries, poultry, and broccoli are also great foods for the lungs.
Nutrition greatly impacts orthopedic health, which refers to the bones, muscles, and joints. Calcium is responsible for blood clotting, and muscle contraction. Foods that are a good source of calcium are dairy products, leafy greens, bony fish, tofu, soybeans, and nuts. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, and supports the muscles needed to protect your bones. Some foods rich in vitamin D are mushrooms, egg yolks, orange juice, milk, and fatty fish. Protein supports bone health and helps the body move. Foods that are rich in protein are beans, nuts, fish, red meats, and poultry. Lastly, Omega-3 fatty acids contain anti-inflammatory proteins that can reduce joint discomfort. Omega-3 is found in fish and walnuts.
Several foods that impact healthy hair, skin, and nails. Sweet Potatoes contain beta-carotene which can help keep your skin healthy by acting as a natural sunblock. Tomatoes are great sources of vitamin C which can help protect the skin from aging. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that strengthens hair follicles and prevents breakage. Dark chocolate helps skin stay hydrated and protects the skin from sun damage.
Fibers pass through your intestines which helps with the formation of stool and helps regular bowel movements. Apples, Kiwi, flax seeds, and prunes are foods high in fiber.
Each meal you eat can have a positive or negative effect on your health. It is important to have a well-rounded diet, so your body can get all the necessary nutrients. If you are struggling to create a balanced diet, contact your doctor or a nutritionist for further assistance.