We all know that carrot trumps cake in the healthy stakes and that chicken salad is a healthier meal than a creamy pasta dish. But why is it that certain foods are so darn good for you?
We explore the top five foods for good health and show you why they should be added to your daily diet in 2013.
Let’s be clear: We’re talking about organic, natural yoghurt here, not the sugary chocolate treats masquerading as yoghurt in the supermarket. Good quality natural yoghurt is choc-full of active cultures known as friendly bacteria, which restore healthy balance in your digestive system. For instance, lactobacillus acidophilus passes through the stomach and populates the intestines, thereby helping your body to fight off infection. It’s also rich in calcium, potassium, riboflavin, magnesium and phosphate.
There’s no reason to be afraid of adding fats to your diet, provided they’re healthy fats. Deep fried hot chips? They will add a bunch of calories to your meal with very little nutrition. But the humble avocado delivers a bunch of nutrients to your system, while also adding a creamy flavour to your salad or sandwich! “Avocados are such a treasure trove of nutrients,” reports Avocados Australia. “They are rich in fibre and healthy fats while naturally low in sugar and sodium. To name a few nutrients, half an avocado can give the average adult 5g of fibre (17% of adult fibre needs); 36% of the recommended dietary intake (RDI) for folate; 31% of RDI for vitamin K; 24% of RDI for vitamin E; and 15% of RDI for potassium.”
There’s nothing quite as bland and tasteless as a stalk of broccoli that has been boiled to within an inch of its life. But when broccoli (or its trendier cousin, broccolini) is prepared properly, this green vegetable can add just as much nutrition to your system as it does flavour to your tastebuds. It’s loaded with vitamin C, folic acid and, most importantly, carotenoids, which contain vitamin A and protects your cells from damaging free radicals, while also improving your reproductive health. Furthermore, just one serving — a measly medium stalk — gives you almost double your recommended daily value of vitamin K, which helps build strong bones.
You may have been led to believe that carbs are the enemy, but in truth, they’re part of a balanced diet. In particular, oats are the ideal way to start your day: As a fibre-rich breakfast, just a half cup boasts around 4.6 grams of “resistant starch”, a healthy carb that boosts metabolism and burns fat. “Studies show that adding a little resistant starch to your morning meal will shift your body into fat-melting mode, so that you burn nearly 25% more calories a day,” reports Health magazine.
A great source of cholesterol-lowering fibre and lean protein, lentils generally feature heavily in vegetarian diets, and for good reason. They are loaded with iron and vitamin B and while they are very filling when added to a curry or soup, they’re also low in calories. Lentils also contain folate and magnesium, which contributes to heart health and improves the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body.