The benefits of eating balanced meals extend beyond weight
management and overall health as many nutrients can protect specific
parts of your body from disease. Although taking supplements can be a
good way to get all the vitamins and nutrients your body needs, nothing
beats a healthy, balanced diet.
The skin is the body's largest organ. While its
cells are continuously renewed as they are lost to normal wear and
tear, there are certain foods you can eat to help your skin stay
- The nutrient: Vitamin C increases oxygen flow to the skin,
assists the body in the production of skin-firming collagen and helps
heal scar tissue, cuts and bruises. It has even been shown to help
prevent infection and cancer in the skin, as well as in many other
- What to eat: A small papaya, a medium-sized orange or a grapefruit.
- The dose: The recommended daily allowance (RDA) is 60
milligrams per day, although some experts see nothing wrong with taking
1,000 mg per day but over several doses. No toxicity from Vitamin C has
been identified but some experts believe that exceeding 2,000
milligrams can have adverse effects such as diarrhea and bloating.
Cardiovascular diseases (diseases of the heart and
blood vessels, including heart attack and stroke) are the leading cause
of death for both men and women. Aside from exercising regularly,
eating the right foods will reduce your risk of developing heart
- The nutrient: Omega-3 essential fatty acids reduces your
risk of heart disease by lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and
blood pressure, as well as by raising HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
- What to eat: Salmon, mackerel or sardines.
- The dose: The RDA has not been established; aim for three six-ounce servings of fish per week.
When you think about healthy bones, you probably
think of calcium, which is the most important nutrient for bone growth.
But phosphate, vitamins A, C and D, as well as the mineral boron, are
also essential in keeping your bones strong and healthy.
- The nutrient: Numerous studies have shown boron to be essential for calcium absorption and for hormones involved in bone metabolism.
- What to eat: Broccoli, peas, grapes, pears and apples. Other good sources include cheese, sardines and salmon.
- The dose: While there is no RDA, you should try to get
one to two milligrams of boron per day. Do not exceed 45mg a day; it
will interfere with riboflavin and phosporus absorption.
Arthritis, or joint inflammation, is becoming more
and more common among people of all ages. The good news is that you can
contribute to the strengthening of your joints.
- The nutrient: Copper is an essential trace mineral involved
in many functions in the human body. It is particularly vital for the
functioning of an enzyme responsible for strengthening bones and
- What to eat: Oysters (4.1 mg per three-ounce serving) and other shellfish, nuts and seeds.
- The dose: The RDA is 1.5 to 3 milligrams per day. High doses of copper (15 to 35 mg) could affect zinc absorption.
There are many foods, including carrots that can help keep your eyes healthy.
- The nutrient: Beta-carotene is converted into Vitamin A by
the body, which acts as an anti-oxidant, helping to break down
cancer-causing chemicals that can damage eye tissues. It also helps
- What to eat: Carrots (two medium-sized ones will give you the RDA), sweet potatoes, yams, broccoli and leafy, green vegetables.
- The dose: The RDA of Vitamin A is 5,000 IU
(International Units); about 10,000-15,000 IUs of beta-carotene convert
to this amount. The only problem that may arise from high amounts of
beta-carotene is a temporary orange-yellow discoloration of the skin,
which is inconvenient but harmless. However, high doses of synthetic
Vitamin A can be toxic over time.
Teeth & gums
Theres a lot more you can do beyond brushing and flossing to avoid sitting in the dentists chair for too long.
- The nutrient: Calcium makes your teeth strong and may even
help keep them disease-free. A study of 13,000 U.S. adults found that
men and women who had calcium intakes of fewer than 500 milligrams, or
about half the RDA, were almost twice as likely to have periodontal
- What to eat: One cup of milk, one cup of almonds or 2 cups of white beans will provide about one-third of the recommended daily intake.
- The dose: The RDA is 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams per day. More than 2,500 mg per day may stress the kidneys and result in kidney stones.
While there is no miracle solution for hair loss, you
can eat certain foods that will stimulate its growth and keep it
- The nutrient: Three non-essential amino acids are crucial
for hair growth and repair. Cystine and cysteine produce alpha-keratin,
which is essential to keep hair "healthy," while methionine prevents
- What to eat: Protein-rich foods including chicken, turkey, beef, eggs, cheese and nuts.
- The dose: While there are no specific RDAs for these
amino acids, you should aim to have a 3.5-ounce piece of meat, an egg
or a handful of nuts at each meal.