Top 10 nutritious foods
1. Greek yoghurt
Want to feel fuller for longer? Try Greek yoghurt. It contains calcium and twice the protein content compared with regular yoghurts, but all yoghurts with active cultures are a good source of probiotics and can boost immunity, prevent bloating and protect your gut health. Mix Greek yoghurt with ground cumin and stir through soup.
Beetroot is one of the richest plant sources of nitrate at 250mg per 100g. Marathon runners are embracing beetroot juice as a sports training and recovery aid as research shows it prolongs endurance. Use grated beetroot for a healthier base for a rich chocolate cake.
Move over spinach leaves, bitter greens like kale and cavalo nero (Tuscan cabbage) are taking over. Part of the brassica family along with Brussels sprouts and cabbage, kale is rich in sulphur-containing phytonutrients, which boost immunity. Serve kale leaves as oven-crisped ‘chips’ – spray lightly with olive oil and bake in a hot oven.
Research shows eating healthy soups, like minestrone, before a main meal helps lower your kilojoule intake across the whole meal, by an average of 400kJ. Take a thermos of hot soup to work for lunch or an afternoon slump-busting snack.
5. Green lentils
Fresh and canned lentils are rich in protein, high in fibre and loaded with nutrients such as B vitamins, folate and minerals. They’re low glycaemic index (GI), too. Lentils may keep you feeling full for at least four hours. A recent study found people who ate lentils with pasta weren't as hungry as those who’d eaten simply pasta with the same amount of kilojoules.
6. Brazil nuts
Nuts have been associated with a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes and may even help make healthy weight management easier. Aim to mix up your intake of different nuts, by trying a wide variety, including Brazil nuts, which are rich in selenium, a proven free-radical fighter. Crush Brazil nuts and mix with wholegrain breadcrumbs and chopped parsley as a crumb for fish.
The omega-3 fats found in sardines are vital for heart health, during pregnancy and for infant brain development. Research shows they keep cell membranes in the brain more fluid and are likely to play a role in ongoing mental health, with potential benefits for Alzheimer’s disease and depression. Start the day with tomato, sardines and fresh mint on toast.
Herbs are nature’s flavour enhancers – their powerful aromatics allow you to dial up the flavour and curb the addition of salt and fat. The phytochemicals in herbs mean their antioxidant capacity is often higher than many fruits and vegetables. Add coriander to your Tex-Mex guacamole or fragrant Thai tom yum soup.
Avocados are nutrient dense, rich in mono and polyunsaturated fats, and naturally low in sugar and sodium. Half an avocado can provide the average adult with 5g of fibre – 17 per cent of your daily needs – and has valuable levels of folate, and vitamin K and E. Try avocado in the obvious salads, dips and canapés, but also experiment: swap the traditional tomato gazpacho for an iced ‘avo’ gazpacho, or try using avocado as a butter replacement in baking.
Picked and roasted when the grain is green, freekeh is low GI and high in dietary fibre and protein. Its unique, nutty texture is delicious served hot as a replacement for rice, tossed through salads or added to soups instead of traditional barley. However, make sure you still stick to ½-1 cup portion-controlled serves. Use freekeh in risottos instead of arborio rice – try using fresh tarragon, Portobello mushrooms and lemon zest as other ‘risotto’ ingredients.