Aside from the obvious, there are many benefits to eating healthier, some of which may surprise you. For most people, the decision to eat a healthier diet stems from weight loss goals, a doctor's recommendation to improve overall health, or both, but a diet rich in the appropriate vitamins, minerals and antioxidants can actually impact you far beyond the numbers on a scale or cholesterol test.

Studies show that healthy eating can actually improve productivity, for example. In much the same way that a car needs the right fuel to run efficiently, your brain does, as well. In fact, one study points to as much as a 66 percent decrease in productivity among people who consistently eat an unhealthy diet compared to people who eat healthy on a regular basis. Eating the right foods every day ensures your body has the right fuel for increased energy, focus and productivity. An unhealthy diet, on the other hand, often leaves you feeling sluggish, fatigued and mentally unfocused.

Healthy diets are linked to happiness and decreased stress levels, as well. Bananas, for instance, have a whopping 10 milligrams of dopamine, a well-documented mood-booster. Unlike sugary milk-chocolate, dark chocolate also contains a chemical known to boost mood (polyphenol). When it comes to stress, foods can even help your body regulate levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the body. Foods rich in vitamin C, magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids all help lower cortisol levels, and that's important, since consistently high cortisol levels can break down much-needed protein in the body.

Still not convinced a healthy diet goes well-beyond weight and cholesterol numbers? Studies also show that diets high in antioxidants not only help you live longer and fight infections and diseases more efficiently, but they help you age better, as well. So, if you're thinking healthy foods are too expensive, consider that you can improve your skin through diet in lieu of expensive moisturizers and costly injections. Antioxidents found in many berries, combined with the omega-3 fatty acids found in foods like salmon, soybeans and walnuts work together to slow premature aging and improve the overall heath of your skin cells, leaving you with healthier, younger-looking skin.

Finally, though sticker shock at the grocery checkout may make you think differently, eating healthy can actually save you money. For one, healthier foods are filled with nutrient-dense calories that take longer to break down and generally keep you full longer and allow you to eat less, giving you much more bang for your buck. Plus, with all the many benefits of healthy eating, you'll see fewer medical bills and health-related expenses down the line!