Food – how great is it? I love that we can fuel our bodies with fresh, whole foods that help us perform at our best.
Here are five foods that I try to eat regularly.
Full of monounsaturated fats, avocado is one of nature’s perfect little parcels. They are rich in fibre and healthy fats, while naturally low in sugar and sodium. In fact, just half an avocado provides:
* 5g of fibre, which is 17 per cent of an adult’s daily fibre needs
* 36 per cent of the recommended dietary intake (RDI) for folate
* 31 per cent of RDI for vitamin K
* 24 per cent of RDI for vitamin E
* 15 per cent of RDI for potassium.
Studies show that eating healthy unsaturated fats (like the ones found in avocados), in place of refined carbs or saturated fats, decreases heart disease risk and can help keep weight off. It also seems to be good for brain health.
Eat it: Spread avocado on a piece of wholegrain toast and serve with boiled eggs in the morning. Add slices of avocado to your salad at lunch. Include avocado in your green salad to accompany dinner.
When I’m in a rush and I don’t have time to sit and have a meal, a handful of unsalted almonds fit the bill and keep hunger pains at bay. Although they’re small, almonds are powerful! In fact, studies show that including a handful of almonds in your diet lowers your LDL (bad) cholesterol. Plus, almonds are a good source of protein, vitamin E, folate and calcium.
Eat it: Although I don’t encourage mindless snacking, a small handful of almonds might be just the thing to tide you over between meals if you’re feeling very hungry. You don’t have to eat too many to feel satisfied and they are a much healthier option than pre packaged snack food of any kind.
Fish is another perfect food – full of nutrients and healthy fats, and low in sodium and unhealthy fats. Because there are so many different kinds of fish, it’s a good idea to vary the type of fish you eat to ensure you’re reaping all the rewards. In fact, did you know that children who eat fish regularly may be less likely to develop asthma? Plus, eating two serves of fish per week reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke by reducing blood clots and inflammation. Eating fish is also linked to a reduced risk of dementia.
Eat it: Include fish in your weekly shop – make it a habit to cook fish at least once a week for dinner. Then, eat canned fish throughout the week – add it to sandwiches and salads at lunch. Opt for fish when you eat out, particularly if you don’t cook it much at home.
Oats are packed with fibre and eating them can reduce your cholesterol levels, lowering your risk of heart disease. Plus, oats are low GI, which means they’ll fill you up and keep your glucose levels stable throughout the morning so you can focus on the tasks that need doing. Oats contain nutrients such as manganese, phosphorus, vitamin B1 and zinc.
Eat it: Oats are the perfect way to start the day. A bowl of muesli (untoasted is normally a healthier choice) or a warm steaming bowl of oatmeal is the ideal start to fuel your brain and your body for the day ahead. To fit the Dr Joanna Plate, simply team with a generous dollop of natural yoghurt, fruit such as berries, and a sprinkle of mixed nuts and/or seeds.
When blueberries are in season, I buy them by the punnet load. They are a good source of vitamin C, which is important for immune system strength, plus they’re full of fibre. Blueberries are one of the richest sources of antioxidants which counteract the affect of free radicals found in our bodies.
Eat it: Top your morning oats with a handful of blueberries. If they’re not in season, frozen blueberries mixed with yoghurt are a great way to go and they still contain all the health benefits as fresh berries. Frozen berries are ideal in smoothies too. I also love to mix fresh blueberries with almonds in a small ramekin to nibble on when I do need a snack.
Remember, when it comes to snacking, only do so if you’re truly hungry (i.e., have a hunger rating of four or below in my Get Lean program), and have more than two hours to go until mealtime.