Why it's important to eat a variety of foods
Posted by kathryn in Uncategorized
As I noted yesterday, most health authorities publish lists of dietary principles to follow. In amongst the advice to lower saturated fat, eat more vegetables, choose lean protein and avoid trans fats, the principle most commonly overlooked is the exhortation to choose a variety of foods.
Variety of foods means variety of nutrients
Variety of foods is important, because it’s the best way of ensuring you get all the nutrients you need.
Lists of the healthiest foods in the world are a common feature of magazine articles, TV programmes, blogs and other websites. However there is no one food which contains all the nutrients you need. It simply doesn’t exist.
There aren’t even five or ten foods, which contain all the nutrients you need.
Instead it’s through eating a wide variety of foodstuffs that you ensure your body gets all the protein, fat, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins it requires for good health.
Variety of foods means variety of antioxidants
By eating a variety of foods you’re also ensuring you get as many different antioxidants as possible. Despite all the fuss about superfoods there is no single food that contains all the antioxidants you need. Not acai, nor pomegranates, blueberries or Indian gooseberries. Not one of these foods has the depth and variety of antioxidants you need.
We don’t need antioxidants in large quantities, but the more different kinds you can consume the better. Antioxidants are not one homogenous thing. Instead they come in many different forms and are found in a range of foods. Different antioxidants also improve your health in varying ways.
Therefore by consuming spices, vegetables, fruit, different wholegrains, tea, nuts, seeds you are ensuring you get enough antioxidants. Both in quantity and variety.
Variety of foods helps to offset food boredom
Eating the same foods every day is easy. In a busy life it can be tempting to stick with what you know. The same breakfast, a revolving menu of three dinners and lunch bought from the same shop every day.
But really, could there be anything more boring?
Food is a wonderful, marvellous, joyous thing. Just think about all the different forms that food comes in. The myriad of colours of vegetables. The different seeds we can eat. How lamb, fish, chicken and tofu are all full of protein and yet they’re so different in flavour and texture.
In my experience, food boredom is one of the main reasons people deviate from their healthy eating plan. If you eat the same foods every day, it’s little wonder the chocolate machine and biscuit tin tempt you each afternoon. Or you cave-in and buy that tub of triple fudge brownie ice-cream at the supermarket. Or stop by McDonald’s on the way home.
Instead, mixing up your foods increases the likelihood you’ll make healthy choices. By eating different things each day and each week, you’ll remain interested and are less likely to give in to the easy gratifications of junk food.
How many different foods do you eat?
This week on Limes & Lycopene I’m discussing the importance of eating a variety of foods. I’ll be regularly reporting in on the variety of foods I’m eating each day
But I’d also like to know how many different foods you’re eating. Leave your thoughts and progress in the comments below.