Is it okay to just eat the same healthy foods everyday? As long as you’re eating healthy, it doesn’t matter how broad your diet is, right? Nope – sorry! Variety is everything. Apart from it being a heck of a lot more exciting, a varied diet provides a TON of nutritional and health benefits.
Too Much of a Good Thing
There is, in fact, too much of a good thing. Too much of just one healthy, nutritious food might not actually be doing you any good. Some foods are packed with nutrients and minerals that you can actually overload on, such as minerals found in various nuts and meats.
Some foods contain particular compounds that, when consumed in large quantities, can build up and actually be harmful to the body. An example of this is the mercury found in fish such as tuna. Normally, yes, tuna is a wonderful and healthy food choice. Eaten too often, however, and you could have to deal with potential mercury poisoning. A balanced diet with a larger degree of variety keeps us from overdoing it with any one food.
Cover Your Bases
Some foods are high in one vitamin or another, but lacking in others. When you maintain a varied diet, you spread the nutritional love around! Different foods complement each other in a number of ways. Eating a broad variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, supplemented by nuts, meats, and dairy, ensures that you are receiving the full package of nutrients that your body needs.
Taste The Rainbow
For the full extent of nutritional benefits, eat your way through the rainbow. There are yummy local options in every color imaginable!
Red pigment is caused by lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that has been associated with reduced risk of some cancers and protection against heart attacks.
Try tomatoes watermelon or berries.
Orange/Yellow foods are rich in beta-carotene. Once in the body, this can be converted into Vitamin A, which is particularly beneficial for vision and immune health.
Try carrots, cantaloupe or sweet potatoes.
Yellow/Green foods are high in Vitamin C as well as lutein, which is excellent for eye health.
Try leafy greens or pistachios.
Green foods are packed with Vitamin K, folic acid, potassium, and isothiocyanates, which help our bodies remove carcinogenic compounds.
Try broccoli, cabbage or sprouts.
Blue/Purple hues are created by anthocyanins, antioxidants that are particularly heart healthy and most likely help support a healthy blood pressure.
Try blueberries, eggplant or blackberries.
Instead of sticking to your regular health food routine (whatever that may be), next time try to switch it up! Incorporate fruits and veggies into your diet with which you may not be familiar! Don’t be afraid to experiment. Switch it up and keep it fresh.
Photo source: Creative Commons Flickr