Welcome to the second in our “Eat Well” article series. Here accredited practising dietitian Lauren Atkins of OnCore Nutrition shines a spotlight on the unsung heroes in your fridge.
Move over kale and goji berries. Quit hogging the limelight. It’s time to shine the light on some of the unsung heroes in your fridge or from your grocery shop. Read on for 5 of the OnCore Nutritions’s more modest A-Team…drum roll please…
Not just goji and blueberries. They get all the attention. All berries – straw, black, rasp – are packed full of antioxidants and the health benefits of eating them are well established. They are an excellent way to nourish your body, keep your ageing to a minimum, your heart and blood vessels happy and your mind crisp!
And if that wasn’t enough to sell you, they’re low in kilojoules, high in fibre and low GI – so you feel satisfied for longer. A 250g punnet of strawberries contains just 250kJ and 7g sugar (same as about half a banana).
2. Oily fish
Oily fish – such as salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines – are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. There is substantial evidence to suggest that the omega-3’s in oily fish can help protect against cardiovascular disease, cancer and are great for cognitive function and brain health. They can also help in managing muscoloskeletal conditions and rheumatoid arthritis and some studies have shown potential to prevent age-related macular degeneration.
They are also one of few dietary sources of vitamin D. Aim for 2 or more serves of fish per week, including oily fish. Tinned varieties will help the hip pocket and don’t rely solely on tuna, swordfish or flake due to their higher mercury levels. On Wednesdays, we eat pink. But also on Fridays.
3. Orange fruits and vegetables
You can thank beta-carotene for the vibrant orange colour. Beta carotene is a precursor for vitamin A, both of which are antioxidants that can help to reduce our risk of developing cancer and heart, brain and liver damage. They can also slow signs of ageing and vitamin A is important for our night vision (and are a cheaper alternative to night-vision goggles). They’re also high in vitamin C, an antioxidant important for rebuilding collagen in our skin and keeping our immune system pumping.
Pumpkin, sweet potato, carrots and lentils are all lower GI carbohydrates so think about swapping some of your non-colourful carbs (potato, rice, white bread) for these vibrant options.
4. Nuts, seeds, legumes and grains
Whoever thinks brown is not part of the rainbow needs to make that glass of theirs half full. Brown can still be pretty. Quit hating. If fruit and veg are the rainbow, then these babies are the pot of gold. Wholegrains, nuts, seeds and legumes (beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils) are low GI, high fibre power-houses. If you choose the right ones, you can also get a solid hit of protein and kill 2 birds with one stone. They contain those golden antioxidants I keep banging on about, and are high in fibre and prebiotics (they feed the good bacteria in our bowel) for gut health.
Research has found that eating 3 serves of wholegrains daily is linked to a 20-30% decrease in total mortality, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke and some cancer risk. Chose varieties as close to nature as possible and mix it up – try pearled barley, buckwheat, quinoa, flaxseeds, chia or one of OnCore’s personal favourites, lupins.
5. Green leafy vegetables
You don’t need me to tell you to eat your greens. You parents did that for you. And your grandma. They’ll make your hair curly…or something… It’s the high levels of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that make these vegetables antioxidant champions. They also contain fibre for a healthy gut. There is probable evidence that they can assist in reducing the risk of head and neck, oesophageal and stomach cancers. Eat more greens. Grandma will be proud of you.
Summary of unsung heroes in your fridge
Bottom line, don’t be afraid to get back to basics. They’ve become commonplace for a reason – by consistently providing us with nourishment without the need for a fad or pseudo-miracle story. If you’re concerned about your diet or nutritional status or aren’t so into the heroes above, feel free to drop us a line!
Tailor your plate to feature the unsung heroes with these recipes…