Healthy Eating: Eat Well, Live Well

Everyone knows some foods are healthier than others. What some people may not know is that healthy foods often offer benefits other than general well-being for your body, such as increased energy, improved mood, beautifying qualities, and even pain relief.

When you’re eating fresh produce and other vitamin-packed foods, you know you’re helping your body, but do you know exactly how different foods affect you?

Energy
If you’re feeling low on energy, it’s tempting to jump to a cup of coffee or an energy drink. But these are just short-term cures that will leave you feeling beat in no time, unlike their healthier alternatives. Nutrient-rich, convenient, and delicious snacks can help boost your energy quickly and efficiently, but will last much longer.

Almonds are a great example of a superstar snack for the sleepy, with their ability to help turn food into energy and keep you rocking through the day. Peanut butter’s healthy fats, protein, and fiber are a great source of healthy energy. Bananas promote sustained energy and muscle function, and are a perfectly portable snack for before or after your workout.

Kale is an energy-booster, and oatmeal’s high fiber content makes it a lasting boost. Cashews, hazelnuts, and pistachios are crunchy coffee compromises, and some say apples give you more pep in your step than caffeine. Greek yogurt and hummus can also help wake you up and keep you up.

Mood/Depression
When you’re feeling irritated, grumpy, and just down in the dumps in general, it may surprise you to hear that the foods you choose can determine how you feel. Some foods can actually boost serotonin production, which is the feel-good chemical. Carbs are an example of this, despite the bad rap they’ve gotten because people think of them as fattening. Turns out, they’re healthy and can make you happy! And, as if you need another reason to enjoy wonderful fruits and veggies, they are another great mood-boosting snack! The antioxidants that these whole foods are full of are linked to lower levels of depression.

Fishes such as salmon and tuna are rich in omega 3s, a mood-boosting nutrient that our bodies don’t naturally produce. Walnuts, spinach, and oils such as canola, flaxseed and soybean are also rich in omega 3s. Coconut can actually slow your heart rate and enhance relaxation while lowering levels of stress, by eating it or just by smelling it. And you’re probably not surprised to hear that teas, particularly herbal and medicinal teas, have been known to turn a mood from bad to good.

Headaches
If you’re one of many people who deal with recurring headaches,  there are some foods that may help. Water-rich snacks like cucumbers, cherries, and watermelons will rehydrate and relieve some of your pain. Riboflavin is vital to keeping headaches away, and that can be found in whole-grain cereals and breads. Spicy foods can decrease the pressure in your head and open airways, helping to relieve pain. Tiny sesame seeds are Vitamin E rich and help relieve tension that can lead to pain. Bananas can help with headaches because of their electrolyte-richness and their ability to relax the blood vessels. Potatoes provide similar benefits, especially with their skins on. Low calcium levels can cause painful headaches, so it’s a good idea to try some dairy when in the middle of one. Yogurt and milk are calcium-rich.

Our organic kale chips are gluten-free, raw, vegan and the kale is grown by local Amish farmers. At Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

Disease Prevention
Preventing disease is just one of the many benefits of eating healthy. Fresh produce and whole foods are the best way to go for this. There are some superfoods, though, that are specifically great for chronic disease prevention. If you want to make an effort to prevent cancer, then leafy green vegetables of dark colors work well. Cherries, carrots, apples, blueberries, flaxseed, legumes, soy, grapes, tomatoes, and many more also help. Any food that is rich in phytochemicals and antioxidants will assist in cancer prevention.

Heart
For the prevention of heart disease, the more color, the better. Dishes of fruits and vegetables of bright various hues are guaranteed to lead to a happy heart. Healthy fats, such as raw nuts and avocados, and high-fiber cereals, breads, and pastas also help. Keeping your diet low in sodium is always a good idea for avoiding heart issues. Berries, beans, salmon, tuna, and oats are essential for preventing diabetes.

Skin
Olive oil has qualities that are believed to slow down the aging process of skin. Dark chocolate hydrates skin and improves circulation, leading to a better complexion. Sardines are one of the best sources of fatty acids and omega 3s, which can keep skin clearer. Green tea can help skin become more elastic and smooth, kale helps it become firmer. Herbs such as rosemary help protect the skin from damaging things such as the sun. Removing dairy from your diet and replacing it with substitutes such as almond and coconut milk can help with acne, wrinkles, and even rashes. Soy, oysters, coffee, kiwis, and yellow peppers are surprising but true skin enhancing foods. And, of course, drinking lots of water is the best thing you can do for your skin, heart, head, energy, mood, and everything else!