How we look, how we feel, how healthy we are, how we perform our daily tasks — it all narrows down to what we eat. How easy it would be if we knew which foods could be beneficial to us — to help us feel energetic, to help us improve our health, to help us in our battle against body fat. Doctors gives you a guide — in two parts — as to what we consider the ten most beneficial foods. These foods are rated on the basis of the health benefits they provide, the fibre content, their vitamin and mineral content as well as low fat and caloric content.
Note: These foods work best when combined with an all round healthy diet and regular exercise regimen.
Touted as the breakfast of athletes all around the world, this mushy, gushy delicious grain can be the first addition you could make to your new and healthy diet and lifestyle change. Unlike other breakfast cereals that are loaded with sugar and stripped of all fibre, which give you a sugar-loaded burst of energy and then drop drastically, allowing it to drop. Oats are slow to digest and thus provide you a steady sustained flow of energy to take you through the first few hours of the day. Oatmeal is also loaded with fibre, especially the soluble kind, and has thus been proven to be invaluable in the battle against high cholesterol and riglyceride levels. Mix it with milk, fruit, yoghurt or nuts; have it hot or cold; use it in cooking — just make sure to make this heart healthy food a part of your daily diet.
Our tiny little red friends are a lot more powerful and beneficial to us than we could ever imagine. Tomatoes contain a carotenoid (a class of highly unsaturated yellow to red pigments occurring in plants), called lycopene. Not only has this powerful carotenoid been proven to improve immunity as well as reduce the risk of developing heart attacks, it has also been proven, believe it or not, to reduce the risk of cancers of the prostate, breast, lung, stomach, pancreas, colon, esophagus, mouth and cervix! While we realise that there are just so many raw tomatoes that we can stomach, here is where it gets more interesting. Research shows that lycopene in tomatoes can be absorbed more efficiently by the body if processed into sauce, paste and ketchup, thus making the tomato one of the few vegetables that is actually more beneficial in its processed or cooked form than when its raw.
Nuts have always managed to get a bad rap due to their high caloric content. Thus, they are often overlooked for their fibre and protein content as well as being an important source of healthy unsaturated fats and numerous beneficial minerals and vitamins. While all nuts do have their benefits, if I had to name just one as the most beneficial, it would have to be almonds. These tasty, crunchy treats are sprinkled into cereals, salads, ice cream as well as being a calming cooling airline snack we rely on to curb our hunger during those long flights. Little do we realise that not only do almonds provide taste and texture to foods, they also provide more complete nutrition in one handful than you can imagine. Just 28 grams (around 23 almonds) provide us with 9 grams of mono-unsaturated fatty acid, 6 grams of muscle building protein, 3 grams of fiber, 200 mg of potassium, 65 mg of bone strengthening calcium as well as a hearty dose of vitamin E, magnesium, phosphorous, copper, zinc and riboflavin. As with most other foods, moderation is important. Nuts do have a high caloric content and it is so very easy to inhale an entire box of these tasty crunchy characters without a thought!
Who would have thought that our smelly friends from the sea could prove to be one of the most beneficial foods in the world? When we were younger, fish was inexplicably considered ‘brain food’. Studies in later years concluded that the omega 3 fatty acids were what actually made fish brain food, as well as making it one of the most beneficial foods as far as heart health, lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels and treating psychiatric illnesses, like depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, were considered. Recent studies have also shown benefits of omega 3 fatty acids for people suffering from arthritis and other joint conditions. Let us not forget the protein punch that fish provides us with, as well as delicious taste whether we decide to order it soaked in butter and garlic or whether we decide to go healthy and have it steamed or grilled. As every fish has its own unique taste and beneficial characteristics, mackerel and salmon lead as far as omega 3 fatty acid content goes.
Something our mothers always told us to drink before we left our home, when we were kids. Think she had any idea that milk is one of the highest quality sources of whole food protein, with a biological value second only to eggs? And let’s not forget the calcium content that milk provides us with, preventing our bones from becoming weak and hollow and developing osteoporosis later in life. Recent studies have also proved that calcium could be beneficial in our battle against body fat. Just make sure to have low fat or fat free milk, which provides us with the same important nutrients minus the fat and the cholesterol. So let’s thank our mommies for nagging us all those years and drink away to a lean muscular physique! PS: Please check that you are not lactose intolerant before you drink milk.
Every fruit has its benefits to the human body. Bananas are rich in heart-healthy potassium, strawberries rich in disease -fighting antioxidants, watermelon is rich in heart-healthy and cancer-preventing lycopene, etc. But we have decided to name the apple as the fruit of our choice due its high antioxidant and fibre content, its taste, its ability to fill a person as well as its extremely low caloric content. Apples are often overlooked due to the lack of vitamin C when compared to fruits like oranges. But recent research has indicated that apples have more antioxidant activity than would be expected from their vitamin C content. This antioxidant activity is thought to come from other natural substances in apples, collectively called phytochemicals. The nutritious content of the apple is very favourable: a medium sized apple contains a mere 80 calories, with no fat or cholesterol content as well as a whopping 5 grams of fibre. Apples are especially rich in pectin fibre, associated with helping keep blood cholesterol levels in balance as well as helping to control appetite levels, thus aiding us in our battle against overeating.
Everyone has their choice of beverage they rely on to perk them up when their energy levels run low, to relax them when the stress just gets too much, or that they can simply enjoy because of its fine taste.Unfortunately, most people go for sugary soft drinks or creamy cafÃƒÂ© lattes. It’s time to switch. To tea! It is tasty, contains some caffeine to perk you, but not too much that it leaves you jittery. It also provides a cupful of antioxidants called flavonoids, that may help prevent cholesterol-damaging arteries. Recent research also suggests that this popular beverage can help reduce the risk of cancer, heart attack and Parkinson’s disease.While most teas are good for you, green tea contains the highest amount of flavonoids, making it an extremely potent antioxidant. Epigallocatechin Gallate (ECGC), the green tea extract, is also known for its fat-burning benefits. Another very interesting bit of information is that green tea is also known to suppress foul breath caused by certain foods.
It was worshipped by the ancient Egyptians, chewed on by Greek Olympian athletes. It aids in keeping the heart healthy, wards off coughs and colds, reduces cholesterol and triglycerides, controls high blood pressure, and chases away vampires and witches (as well as a couple of friends and family members)! Yep, this aptly nicknamed’stinking rose’ has a number of benefits, and not just to make Italian dishes taste so good.
9. Kidney Beans
We highly recommend you add beans to you meal plan.Beans are high in fibre, both insoluble as well as the all-important, cholesterol-lowering soluble kind Their high fibre content also slows down the digestion, thus providing a steady flow of energy as well as keeps you feeling more satiated at the end of the meal.They are also a good source of a host of vitamins and minerals. Why kidney beans? Because of their delicious taste and the fact that they are an excellent source of iron, folate as well as magnesium Red kidney beans lead the way as far as antioxidant content in beans go. Add them to soups or salads, use them in your curries, use them in your sabzis whatever you do, don’t miss out on this nutritional powerhouse. But make sure you add them gradually to your meal plan.
Maybe it isn’t the best choice to include in a list of ‘foods’, but it is so very, very important to include water at all times of the day! Water is a fundamental part of our lives. It is easy to forget how completely we depend on it Water has been ranked by experts as second only to oxygen as essential for life. The average adult body has 55 to 75 percent water.Two-thirds of our body weight is water. A human embryo is more than 80 percent water. A newborn baby is 74 percent water. The water you drink literally Becomes you! The functions of water go far beyond just hydration. They include aiding digestion, weight loss, battling water retention, regulating body temperature, aiding the kidney in excretion, lubricating our joints.