Scientific research has proven that losing just 5% of your weight already reduces the risk of contracting all sorts of health problems. But eating healthily is also important to people of normal weight. Our bodies need energy from food to get going. In addition, food is a major source of vitamins and of nutrients that serve as building blocks for the body's tissues. By eating healthy and varied meals, you ensure your body gets all the energy, building blocks and vitamins it needs.
- 2 in 10 Dutchmen believe they eat too much fat, but it's actually 6 in 10;
- 1 in 10 Dutchmen believe they eat too few vegetables, but it's actually 8 in 10;
- 3 in 10 Dutchmen believe they eat too little fruit, but it's actually 6 in 10.
What's more, when eating too much food, or the wrong sort of foods, you stand the risk of cholesterol building up in your arteries, causing them to narrow and limiting the flow of oxygen-rich blood into your heart. This means your heart needs to start working harder. You don't notice any of this happening. For high cholesterol levels in your blood do not cause any physical symptoms, but it can lead to heart and brain infarctions in time. Eating a varied and healthy diet (in particular, going easy on the saturated fats) ensures your blood cholesterol remains at the normal level and your arteries remain free of build-up. In addition to the risk of cardiovascular disorders due to high cholesterol levels, there are other clear links between certain types of food and developing (or preventing!) health problems. Salt raises blood pressure. Too high a blood pressure increases the risk of having a stroke, for instance. Positive relationships exist as well: eating unsaturated fats lessens the risk of developing cardiovascular disorders. Vegetables and fruits are known to have a positive impact on, for instance, the heart and blood vessels.
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance the body requires to build its cells. It also forms the basis for certain hormones and bile acids. Our bodies produce some 70% of the cholesterol it needs. The remainder is absorbed from our food, in particular from animal fats. This is why the blood cholesterol level depends on the amount of fat you eat - in particular, on the amount of saturated fat in your diet. The body converts this fat into cholesterol. Estimates are that some 15% of all Dutchmen has too high a blood cholesterol level. In addition to food, smoking and lack of exercise also influence the blood cholesterol level.