With the myriad of health advice, should and should not guidelines, and advertisers putting their two cents on what is good for us, it is down right confusing as to what we can do to boost health with what we eat.
So, here are five simple, straightforward, cut-to-the-chase ideas of what you can do, today, to use food to boost your health!
One: Add herbs and greens
Packing a nutritional punch, herbs, sprouts and leafy greens are easy to incorporate into nearly any meal. They offer concentrated sources of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin A, vitamin C, iron and calcium. They are easy to digest, hypo-allergenic, and herbs especially can enhance the flavour, bringing freshness to most meals.
You could even try growing your own!
- Add fresh parsley, basil, coriander or mint on top of salads, stews and soups
- Add spinach, kale or silverbeet to stir fries, sauces, stews and soups
- Spinkle sunflower or mung sprouts on top of salads, stews and soups
- Add fresh mint to breakfasts and desserts like fresh fruit, Greek or coconut yoghurt, creams, and smoothies
Two: Make your own over store bought
Find something more nourishing than takeaway chow, like making a quick salad of avocado, tuna, a handful of spinach and a squeeze of lemon. It will save you money and leave you with more energy than you would if eating something laden with sugar, salt or trans-fats.
Three: Sprinkle the seeds
Rammed with goodness including good fats and protein, and cheap to boot, topping any sweet or savoury meal with a sprinkle of seeds is a kick-ass way to amplify the nutritional density.
And the crunch factor is pretty satisfying.
Sunflower seeds are super cheap, and provide a decent dose of B vitamins, and vitamin E – an antioxidant fighting hard to protect organs, tissues and cells from damage by preventing the spread of free radicals in cell membranes and lipoproteins in the blood.1
Pepitas, or pumpkin seeds, are a great source of zinc, present in all body cells and tissues. It is important in many body system functions, including nervous, skin, and immune (the latter being particularly imperative at this chilly time of year!).2
Chia seeds are a little newer to the market, and whilst they are a tad more expensive than the its seed cousins above, they can provide a good protein and omega-3 fatty acid hit – something your brain, mood and muscles will love you for.3;4
Four: Replace white, refined foods with veg
Many wheat, rice or corn flour based products our there are stripped of their once abundant nutritional value. So sub out the white rice for cauliflower rice, use white pasta for spiralised zucchini or squash, or replace some of the flour in a bread/cake/dough recipe with sweet potato. We have great ideas in our The Office Luncheon e-book too, such as Cauliflower Fried Rice; Meatless Monday Magic Mushroom Zoodles, and Stuffed Sweet Potato Fun Buns!
Five: Sneak it in
Adding beans, veg and fruit to sweet and savoury foods where you can provides added vitamins, minerals and fibre that would otherwise be missing!
Black bean brownies, pureed carrots or pumpkin into cheesy sauces, and zucchini and banana muffins are just a few examples of great ways to up the nutritional content of a meal.
Not only that, once you start subbing out sweeteners and replacing with fruits, veg, or 100% homemade puree, your tastes buds being to adapt, becoming more sensitive to the subtle sweetness provided in these whole foods, helping you along your low added sugar journey!
By Angela Johnson (BHSc Nut. Med.)
- Linus Pauling Institute 2016, ‘Vitamin E’, Oregon State University, viewed 18 July 2016, <http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/vitamin-E>.
- Roohani, N, Hurrell, R, Kelishadi, R, & Schulin, R 2013, ‘Zinc and its importance for human health: An integrative review’, Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, vol. 18, no. 2, pp. 144-157 14p.
- Ixtaina, VY, Martínez, ML, Spotorno, V, Mateo, CM, Maestri, DM, Diehl, BW, Nolasco, SM, & Tomás, MC 2011, ‘Original Article: Characterization of chia seed oils obtained by pressing and solvent extraction’, Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, vol. 24, pp. 166-174.
- Sandoval-Oliveros, MR, & Paredes-López, O 2013, ‘Isolation and characterization of proteins from chia seeds (Salvia hispanica L.)’,Journal Of Agricultural And Food Chemistry, vol. 61, no. 1, pp. 193-201.