According to a study, eating healthy is just as good for you as walking an extra 4,000 steps a day.
Scientists say that eating fruits and vegetables increases physical fitness and improves overall health.
They think it might be because a nutritious diet improves health metabolismhelping the body process calories and absorb goodness from foods.
This could be why some people who exercise are fitter than others who exercise but are less strict about what they eat.
And it offers an effortless way to get in shape — by simply cutting out junk food.
Study author Dr. Michael Mi of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston said, “In middle-aged adults, healthy eating habits were strongly associated with fitness, even when activity levels were accounted for.”
“The improvement in fitness was similar to the effect of walking 4,000 more steps every day.”
Four thousand steps is about 1.7 to 2 miles.
Most Britons are overweight and not getting enough exercise – the NHS recommends at least 2.5 hours of moderate activity per week.
dr Mi’s study in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology used data from 2,380 middle-aged Americans.
Their maximum fitness and the quality of their diet were compared.
Diet quality was rated on a scale of one to 110, with a higher score indicating a greater focus on the Mediterranean diet.
High-scoring “superfoods” that may benefit your health include:
- Whole grains (e.g. brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal)
- Legumes (e.g. beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas)
- Reduce consumption of red meat and alcohol
Every 13 additional points on the healthy eating scale resulted in a five percent increase in performance on an exercise bike, the study found.
dr Mi added, “There are already many health reasons to eat quality food and we’re bringing another to the link with fitness.”
“A Mediterranean style diet with fresh, whole foods and minimally processed foods, red meat, and alcohol is a great place to start.”