According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fewer than 1 in 10 adults and teenagers in the United States eat enough fruits and vegetables. Not only does this have an impact on day-to-day energy levels and overall wellness, but it can also impact your health long-term by increasing your risk of developing a chronic disease or cancer.
"In general, a diet that is low in animal fat and processed carbohydrates and high in whole grains and plant-based proteins is going to be healthier," says Dr. Jennifer Manders, breast surgeon at The Christ Hospital.
Superfoods: Why are they super?
What does a cancer-fighting diet look like? Dr. Manders suggests looking for "superfoods" on your next trip to the grocery store. Superfoods are typically high in omega3, antioxidants and lycopene, as well as other essential nutrients. Superfood examples include:
- Lean protein like chicken or turkey
Seasoning foods with turmeric and cumin can also have additional health benefits by reducing inflammation and lowing your risk of heart disease or Alzheimer's. It can even improve symptoms of arthritis and depression. Incorporating superfoods into your family's daily menu will give everyone a nutrient boost.
Organic foods – are they worth it?
Not all organic foods are created equal, so it's essential to do your homework when you reach for organic products at the store. As a general rule, try to stick to non-processed organic foods.
"The less processed your food is, the better it is for you," says Dr. Manders. "Also, whatever cows are fed does make a difference in the quality of meat, and how chickens are treated does affect the egg and meat quality."
Dr. Manders suggests doing online research to broaden your organic food knowledge base. If you're going to spend the extra money on organic foods, make sure it's for a high-quality product.
Nutrition is a key piece in our overall health – but not the only part. Regular well-visits with your physician, daily exercise, drinking water and limiting alcohol consumption all contribute to longer, healthier lives.
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