Read any newspaper or magazine article on healthy eating these days and you’re more than likely to find mention of superfoods – nutrient-rich foods that offer plenty of vitamins and minerals.
From going gluten free to trying a paleo or clean eating diet, if you find it hard to know what healthy means, you’re not the only one – though the concept is simple, increasingly, healthy eating can feel complicated.
A healthy, balanced diet isn’t as difficult as some cookbooks and nutrition experts can make it seem. It’s all about choosing a mix of nutrient rich foods to fuel your body each day. The best ingredients are those that have plenty of nutrients and not too many calories; your aim should be to eat a diet of foods rich in vitamins, minerals, complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fats.
Still not sure where to start? Here are some of the nutrient-rich staples to incorporate as part of a varied diet.
- Kale – Small but mighty, kale is one of the most nutrient-dense leafy greens going. Just 100 grams will give you vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B6, potassium, calcium, magnesium protein and fibre. If you’re put off by the slightly bitter taste of the raw leaves, try making kale chips instead. Lightly sprinkle oil and salt over some kale leaves and bake in the oven until crisp and dry. It’s a simple and delicious snack that might even help you resist the urge to reach for the bag of crisps.
- Sweet Potatoes – This incredibly versatile vegetable is delicious a dozen different ways. Their rich flavour makes them a favourite with all ages, and when served with the skins on, are one of the most nutritious vegetables you can eat. With plenty of potassium and vitamin A in every bite, for once it’s a dish that’s as delicious as it is healthy for you.
- Greek Yogurt – Greek Yogurt is an excellent source of protein, potassium and calcium, as well as a great source of gut-boosting probiotics. Skip the sugar-filled yogurts that fill the aisles of your local supermarket and opt for plain Greek Yogurt instead; it’s smooth, creamy and thick, and the natural tang tastes delicious with everything from honey to berries and granola. If you’re not a big breakfast person, try incorporating a dollop into a smoothie instead – it helps make your drink nice and smooth and offers up that slow burning energy you need to get you through the day.
- Beans – Endlessly versatile, beans are the only foods recognised as both a vegetable and a protein. There’s a reason vegetarians love these little dynamos so much; they are flavourful, easy to cook and are an excellent source of protein when you don’t want to eat meat. Packed with fibre, phytonutrients and low-fat protein, a diet rich in beans can help combat the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers. Look for ways you can incorporate them into your favourite dishes – they taste great in soups, stews, chilli, salads, burritos and alongside scrambled eggs.
- Blueberries – Nicknamed the “brain berry”, blueberries are packed with antioxidants and can help fend off cancer, diabetes, and memory changes associated with age. Rich in fibre, and vitamins A and C, you can reap the benefits of this sweet snack with a serving size as small as a cup. Try them sprinkled over Greek Yogurt for breakfast, with pancakes or baked inside a delicious autumnal berry crumble.
What are your favourite healthy ingredients?