Tuesday, 23 February 2010

10 Super Foods to get Healthy and into Great Shape

If you want to look good and feel good, you need to be sure that you are eating a healthy diet full of vitamins and minerals. Whatever eating plan you follow here are 10 foods that should be included in your diet on a regular basis:

Nuts - these include Almonds, Brazil, walnuts, pistachio, pine, Hazelnut are very high in vitamins and minerals which can help prevent against cancers and cardiovascular disease and helps to keep skin healthy. Nuts are a great way to keep hunger at bay so are a fantastic mid morning/afternoon snack, due to their high ‘good’ fat content it takes longer to digest them leaving you feeling fuller for longer, therefore must be eaten in moderation. Almonds are high in calcium and almond milk is a great alternative to those who don’t eat dairy products.

Beans (pulses) – includes Haricot, Kidney, Broad, garbanzo (chick pea), black beans, lentils – beans are a great source of vitamins and minerals and can help prevent diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular. They can also be a great source of protein for vegetarians.

Berries – these include strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blackcurrants, cranberries and blueberries. Berries are a rich source of vitamin C, which helps to fight infection and boost the immune system. Cranberries and Blueberries are great for fighting infection in the kidneys, bladder and urinary tract.

Asparagus – Asparagus is a great source of vitamin C, folic acid, magnesium, potassium and Iron which helps promote energy, healing and fights infection. It is also a great source of vitamins and minerals including vitamin E which is great for fighting disease.

Broccoli – Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable along with cauliflower, kale, spring greens, turnips, Brussels sprouts and is rich in nutrients that help to fight against types of cancer such as breast and colon. Broccoli acts as a detoxifier, helping lower ‘bad’ cholesterol and helps to protect against heart disease. Broccoli provides Iron and is a fantastic source of folate, vitamin C and potassium.

Beetroot (beet) – Beetroot is rich in potassium and provides plenty of folate and Iron, essential for the formation of red blood cells and helping to prevent anemia. Beetroot should be eaten raw or cooked, avoid the type packed in vinegar as this not only makes it acidic which can affect the gu, pickling reduces the level of nutrients. The leaves on Beetroot are also very nutritious and can be eaten in the same way as spinach.

Fennel – Fennel is a great source of fibre, folate and potassium and contains a range of other nutrients including vitamin C, selenium, vitamin B3 (niacin) and Iron. Fennel is a very low in calories so great for people watching their weight, it’s also a great digestive aid and antiflatulent. It is rich in antioxidants which help fight against disease.

Carrots - Carrots are high in Beta Carotene which helps to fight diseases such as heart disease and certain cancers. Not only are they great for the immune system but the skin and eyesight also. The Carotenes are better absorbed when the carrot is cooked rather than raw, choose steaming or stir frying as the cooking method.

Brown Rice – whilst white rice has very little vitamin and mineral content, brown rice is very different, brown rice and other whole grains have been shown to help prevent heart diseases, diabetes and some cancers due to its high selenium content. Brown rice is low glycaemic index which can help to control blood sugar levels and the B vitamin content helps converts the food to energy and keep the nervous system healthy.

Garlic - Garlic has been highly valued for years for its health benefits. It is rich in sulphur compounds which gives it its strong odor but are the main source of its health benefits, benefits include keeping the blood healthy which helps prevent diseases such as heart disease and certain cancers. It is a natural antibiotic, antifungal and anti viral and can also help prevent stomach ulcers.

It is worth noting that you can’t have a balanced nutritious diet by eating these foods alone, you need to keep the diet as varied as possible, a balanced diet should consist of fresh fruit, seasonal vegetables, whole grains such as brown rice and oats and lean protein such as organic free range chicken and lean meat (organic, grass fed only). You should also include in your diet regular amounts of oily fish, seeds, cold pressed oils, herbs and spices. Exercise regularly, stick to a healthy diet and cut out poor food options such as alcohol, processed foods, take away foods and wheat flour products.