Why Not Make Eating Healthy Your New Year’s Resolution?

By Maylin Rodriguez-Paez

It’s almost time to declare that infamous New Year’s Resolution that many of us make every year. Sure, things like making more money or buying a new house are important, but why not resolve to do something that will truly impact the rest of your life? Here’s our suggestion: this year, put eating healthier at the top of your list.

Eating right can be difficult, especially during the holiday season when our senses are literally bombarded with cookies, pies, and cakes. But after the season is gone, make it a point to give your refrigerator a full-on makeover. The New Year offers a perfect opportunity for a new outlook on stocking your fridge.

As you likely know, the benefits of healthy eating are innumerable. For example, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables may decrease the risk for multiple diseases, including diabetes,1 glaucoma,2 osteoporosis,3 and hypertension.4 For example, according to one study, women who ate more fruits and vegetables had a 52% lower risk of contracting breast cancer.5

Now, most people know that eating healthy is good for them. The real challenge lies in actually changing their diet. But it doesn’t have to be so difficult. It really isn’t as hard as you might think. You don’t have to give up your old eating habits overnight or eat salads every day.

The best way to get “on track” is by trying to incorporate more healthy foods into your diet gradually. Remember, successful and long-lasting changes are almost always achieved in small steps. The key is starting somewhere and keeping with it.

Foods to Start Eating in 2014

Here are some key foods that you should consider incorporating into your diet for 2014. Remember, take it one item at a time and pace yourself. This is something you’re going to be doing throughout the year and for many years to come.

1. Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower) contain cancer fighting nutrients. Among them is I3C, which helps to detoxify carcinogenic compounds from the body.

2. Green tea drinkers have lower rates of diabetes6 and cognitive impairment.7 According to several studies, the most benefits are reaped by drinking five or more cups a day.

3. Pomegranate is one of nature’s most powerful antioxidants. A study done in Israel showed that pomegranate juice reduced the thickness of arterial walls in people with carotid stenosis.8 These changes were noted after only three months.

4. High fiber foods support healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels, but they also help us lose weight — an important point to consider after the holiday season. Foods rich in fiber include nuts, beans, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

5. Blueberries combat high blood sugar, obesity, and adverse blood lipid profiles. Much of these beneficial properties are attributed to the rich blue pigments (anthocyanins) found in their skin.

Foods to Stop Eating in 2014

The American diet culprit is refined sugar. So, please stop eating and drinking it! Soda is actually one of the biggest offenders in the Western diet. However, be sure to watch out for some of the seemingly “innocent” foods that aren’t nearly as obvious.

For example, definitely try to cut back on things like white bread, white pasta, and white rice. These foods taste great but wreak total havoc on your blood sugar levels as well as your skin. In fact, sugar can actually distort the collagen fibers that make your skin look youthful and cause wrinkles. 9 Instead, choose more complex carbohydrates whenever possible.

Keep in mind that many experts agree that the typical American diet is to blame for so many of our problems. Want a resolution-worthy pledge that will (literally) shape your life for years to come? Make 2014 a year for better eating!

References

  1. Salas-Salvadó J et al. The role of diet in the prevention of type 2 diabetes. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2011 Sep;21 Suppl 2:B32-48. Epub 2011 Jul 13.
  2. Coleman AL, et al. Glaucoma risk and the consumption of fruits and vegetables among older women in the study of osteoporotic fractures. Am J Ophthalmol. 2008 Jun;145(6):1081-9. Epub 2008 Mar 20.
  3. Chen YM et al. Greater fruit and vegetable intake is associated with increased bone mass among postmenopausal Chinese women. Br J Nutr. 2006 Oct;96(4):745-51.
  4. Utsugi MT et al. Fruit and vegetable consumption and the risk of hypertension determined by self measurement of blood pressure at home: the Ohasama study. Hypertens Res. 2008 Jul;31(7):1435-43.
  5. Shannon J, et al. Food and botanical groupings and risk of breast cancer: a case-control study in Shanghai, China. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2005 Jan;14(1):81-90..
  6. Song Y et al. Associations of dietary flavonoids with risk of type 2 diabetes, and markers of insulin resistance and systemic inflammation in women: a prospective study and cross-sectional analysis. J Am Coll Nutr. 2005 Oct;24(5):376-84.
  7. Kuriyama S, Hozawa A, Ohmori K, et al. Green tea consumption and cognitive function: a cross-sectional study from the Tsurugaya Project. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Feb;83(2):355-61.
  8. Aviram M et al. Pomegranate juice consumption for 3 years by patients with carotid artery stenosis reduces common carotid intima-media thickness, blood pressure and LDL oxidation. Clin Nutr. 2004 Jun;23(3):423-33.
  9. Pageon H. Reaction of glycation and human skin: the effects on the skin and its components, reconstructed skin as a model. Pathol Biol (Paris). 2010 Jun;58(3):226-31. Epub 2009 Nov 5.

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