Yes it’s January so a lot of us are now making New Year resolutions and thinking about how we can eat healthier. I am passionate about eating good food any time of the year and I think it’s great that people are now so interested in learning about nutrition. However, it’s very easy to be a bit dazzled by all the new ‘superfoods’ like spirulina, bone broth and goji berries and forget about how amazing many of our everyday foods are. So here are 7 humble foods that don’t shout look-at-me but help us stay well and healthy in a quiet way…
Blueberries tend to be the Prom Queen when it comes to healthy berries but the shy little raspberry is amazing too. Like all the berries, they are full of anti-oxidants, but raspberries are also low in sugar and one of the most micro-nutrient dense fruits (as well as tasting great). They are also anti-inflammatory and as inflammation is as at the root of many of today’s chronic illnesses, that’s really good news.
Deep joy – chocolate is good for you! Not the ones with loads of milk and sugar in of course, but the good quality, dark chocolate (70% or more). Firstly it’s full of minerals such as: magnesium, potassium, zinc, selenium and iron which many of us can be deficient in. It sounds mad, but cocoa has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity. So dark chocolate – in moderation – might delay or prevent the onset of diabetes. Real chocolate also contains phenylethylamine (PEA), which encourages your brain to release feel-good endorphins – a bit like being in love. What’s not to like!
Yes, butter really is good for you. Recent studies have shown that ‘good fats’ like butter actually help you lose weight and control cholesterol. It has medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) which are great for supporting your immune system and boosting your metabolism and they are the best brain fuel. Butter also contains butyric acid which helps us maintain a healthy digestive system. It’s best to use butter from grass-fed cows (Like Kerrygold).
Lemons are another humble food that we often take for granted. They are full of vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, copper. They are also alkalising once they are inside our bodies and as many of today’s chronic health diseases flourish in an acidic environment that is good news. One of the best ways to gain the health benefits of lemons is to drink some lemon water first thing in the morning – just squeeze the juice of half a lemon in to some warm water and enjoy!
Eggs are another food that have got a bad rap when it comes to saturated fat/cholesterol but recent studies show that the idea that fat in foods immediately converts to fat in our body is not true (Hint: it’s actually sugar that encourages your liver to produce more cholesterol). In fact, eggs are known as nature’s multi-vitamin as they are packed with virtually every nutrient that we need to survive. Eggs are a high-quality protein and contain all the essential amino acids in the right ratios, so our bodies can make full use of the protein in them.
Well I bet that surprised you but unrefined, NATURAL salt is a highly nutritious food and we just wouldn’t survive without it (in fact, people used to be paid in salt which is where we get the word ‘salary’ from). Table salt is not a true salt as it has been heavily processed and bleached which removes the good minerals and anti-caking chemicals are added so it really isn’t of value to our bodies. However, natural salts, such as Celtic sea salt and pink Himalayan salt, are rich in minerals and even have naturally-occurring trace minerals, like silicon, phosphorous and vanadium, which are vital for many of the body’s micro-processes.
Walnuts are the only nuts that contain significant amounts of alpha-linoleic acid (ALA) – a healthy omega-3 fat which is especially beneficial for hearth health. Omega 3s are really important for controlling inflammation and maintaining the Omega 6 to Omega 3 balance in our bodies. In the West, most of us are Omega 6 dominant so the more Omega 3s we can add to our diet the better.
So don’t be afraid to use these foods in your cooking and let’s really enjoy these simple, quietly amazing foods that nature has provided for us.