17 scientific facts to motivate you to eat healthy even when you really don't want to

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It can be tough to eat right all the time. We want to reach for the fries, or the burger, or the doughnut. Or all of the above.

But a proper diet really does have insane health benefits. (Those benefits are sometimes difficult to tease apart, since people who eat healthy generally have other healthy habits as well, but the perks we've included here are pretty well-established.)

What's considered "healthy eating" is always a source of debate, but it's not actually that complicated: Nutritionists can agree that a diet rich in whole foods, with lots of fruits and vegetables, seafood, whole grains, dairy, legumes, and nuts is good for you. Processed foods and added sugar are generally a bad idea.

To motivate you to put down the cupcake and pick up the broccoli, here are 17 research-backed reasons to eat healthy:

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Eating right could reduce your risk for some cancers. Multiple studies have found a diet high in fruits and vegetables could help prevent the disease.

Eating right could reduce your risk for some cancers. Multiple studies have found a diet high in fruits and vegetables could help prevent the disease.

Sources: Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Nutrition Journal, British Journal of Cancer

A healthy diet could make your skin glow. Carbohydrate-rich foods with a high glycemic index (meaning they quickly increase your blood sugar) could contribute to acne, studies have found.

A healthy diet could make your skin glow. Carbohydrate-rich foods with a high glycemic index (meaning they quickly increase your blood sugar) could contribute to acne, studies have found.

Source: American Academy of Dermatology

It'll save you money. A large study found unhealthy diets full of processed foods cost $1.50 more a day than healthy ones full of whole foods.

It'll save you money. A large study found unhealthy diets full of processed foods cost $1.50 more a day than healthy ones full of whole foods.

Source: BMJ Open, Harvard School of Public Health

Eating right could improve men's fertility. A Mediterranean diet is associated with an increased sperm count, and obese men tend to have fewer, more abnormal sperm.

Eating right could improve men's fertility. A Mediterranean diet is associated with an increased sperm count, and obese men tend to have fewer, more abnormal sperm.

Sources: Human Reproduction, Nature Reviews Urology, Fertility and Sterility

A well-balanced diet could improve your mood. People who eat more fruits and vegetables tend to report better mental health in studies.

A well-balanced diet could improve your mood. People who eat more fruits and vegetables tend to report better mental health in studies.

Sources: British Journal of Health Psychology, BMJ Open

Eating right could boost your energy and enhance your athletic performance.

Eating right could boost your energy and enhance your athletic performance.

Sources: Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, Harvard Medical School

A healthy diet could reduce your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes, which is preventable with diet and exercise.

A healthy diet could reduce your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes, which is preventable with diet and exercise.

Sources: CDC, Mayo Clinic, US Department of Health and Human Services

It could extend your life. People who eat well tend to live longer, and they have fewer health complications so they enjoy the extra time.

It could extend your life. People who eat well tend to live longer, and they have fewer health complications so they enjoy the extra time.

Sources: CDC, Harvard Medical School, Tech Insider

Many studies have shown that eating a healthy diet could reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks and strokes.

Many studies have shown that eating a healthy diet could reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks and strokes.

Sources: American Heart Association, Journal of the American College of Cardiology, National Institutes of Health, Mayo Clinic

Eating right could protect your memory. Studies have found people who follow healthy diets are less likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer's.

Eating right could protect your memory. Studies have found people who follow healthy diets are less likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer's.

Sources: Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders Extra, JAMA Internal Medicine

A healthy diet could lower your blood pressure, multiple studies have found.

A healthy diet could lower your blood pressure, multiple studies have found.

Sources: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA

Eating a healthy diet, especially including calcium and Vitamin D, could reduce your risk for osteoporosis and bone loss.

Eating a healthy diet, especially including calcium and Vitamin D, could reduce your risk for osteoporosis and bone loss.

Sources: A Report of the Surgeon General, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Public Health Nutrition

A major review of nutrition research found that a healthy diet can improve how long and how well you sleep.

A major review of nutrition research found that a healthy diet can improve how long and how well you sleep.

Source: Nutrition Research

Keeping bad fats — mostly trans fats but some saturated fats, too — out of your diet could help lower your cholesterol.

Keeping bad fats — mostly trans fats but some saturated fats, too — out of your diet could help lower your cholesterol.

Sources: Harvard School of Public Health, Mayo Clinic, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

You could reduce your risk of getting kidney stones with a healthy diet, studies have found.

You could reduce your risk of getting kidney stones with a healthy diet, studies have found.

Sources: JAMA Internal Medicine, Journal of the American Society of Nephrology 2004, Journal of the American Society of Nephrology 2009

A healthy diet could boost your immunity and help keep you from getting sick.

A healthy diet could boost your immunity and help keep you from getting sick.

Sources: Harvard Medical School, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Cleveland Clinic

Of course, eating right is one of the best ways to maintain a healthy weight. Don't forget to exercise and sleep, too!

Of course, eating right is one of the best ways to maintain a healthy weight. Don't forget to exercise and sleep, too!

Sources: CDC, USDA

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