Monday, October 11, 2010

Healthy foods

Last week I gave you a list of unhealthy foods, so you can fairly safely assume that anything that did not appear on that list is healthy – in moderation, of course. Even healthy foods eaten in excess can cause weight-gain, and we all know that carrying excess weight is unhealthy. Here are my favourite healthy foods:

All brightly coloured vegetables are great as a source of vitamins, minerals and micro-minerals. Yellow through orange through red supply generous amounts of carotene; and get plenty of the dark green and leafy veg, too, as they give us iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium (and more). All vegetables are a good source of fibre, and generally they contain varying amounts of Vitamin A, C and the B group (plus others). Vegetables – boiled, steamed or raw – are low in calories/kilojoules, and it would be difficult to eat ‘too much’, provided you don’t smother them with rich creamy sauces or add excessive amounts of salt.

Like vegetables, fruits are full of nutritional goodness, plus they make delicious eating. Bananas, watermelon and dried fruit are high in sugar, so limit consumption of these, otherwise aim for three servings of fruit a day. Fruit is so versatile; use it to top off your muesli or oats, make a smoothie, add it to a green salad, have it as a starter or finish your meal with a (home-made) fruit salad. If you drink commercial fruit juice it’s best to dilute it with an equal amount of water – check the packaging for any added sugars, and make sure that it is 100% pure fruit juice.

Lean chicken, turkey and ostrich
These meats are low in fats and cholesterol – in fact, ostrich has no cholesterol but has a flavour and texture similar to beef, if you have a craving for red meat. Of course, don’t eat the skin no matter how crispy and delicious it looks; better to cook it without the skin in the first place!

Eating fish two or three times a week can help to lower your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Fish is low in fats – total and saturated – and a good source of protein. All fish and shellfish contain some omega-3 fatty acids, which are the friendly fats that can increase the body’s production of the ‘good’ cholesterol while lowering the levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol and triglycerides. Mackerel, herring, sardines, tuna, canned salmon and trout have the highest omega-3 content. Keep the cooking method simple – steam, bake, grill or ‘dry-fry’.

Legumes (Pulses)
Legumes are rich in fibre, vitamins, minerals and protein and low in fats. Nutritious, delicious and filling.
Legumes have a low GI which means that the sugars they contain enter the bloodstreams relatively slowly.

Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are between ten and twenty five percent protein. They are good sources of Vitamins B1, B2 and E, as well as calcium, phosphorous, potassium and iron. People who regularly eat nuts show a decreased risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Low fat or fat free dairy produce
Full fat milk is 6% fat, low fat is 2% and fat free is… fat free (almost). Yes, there is a difference to the taste and texture, but one that you can get used to very easily. Low fat and fat free products retain all the nutritional value (and protein) of the full fat version.

Although egg yolk has a high cholesterol count, if you have high cholesterol you will do yourself more good by cutting down the total fats you consume than by eliminating eggs from your menu. Eggs are an excellent source of protein and other nutrients; they are inexpensive and easy to prepare.

Now, shall I have an egg or baked beans for lunch?.....

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