We know that the key to achieving a healthy diet is having the right balance of good, wholesome and nutritious foods which keep us looking good, feeling good and prevent unwanted health problems. To help you get the right balance, here are the 5 best foods to eat daily!
Whole grains are kernels which have been minimally processed so include the germ, endosperm and bran- the 3 major components of grains.
Some examples of whole grains to include in your diet daily are brown rice, oats, wholemeal bread, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat noodles, quinoa, barley, popcorn (plain) and, whole wheat cereals.
So what are the gains from eating whole grains?
Whole grains are packed with fibre, vitamins and minerals which all help to keep our body working properly and prevent long-term health conditions.
The bucket load of fibre in whole grains can prevent constipation, control glucose levels, manage cholesterol and blood pressure. They can also help you to feel full for longer so, it may have a role in weight management too.
The best thing is, it’s not hard to increase your fibre intake. A simple swap from white rice to brown rice can give you 6x the fibre or from white bread to wholemeal bread will give you 2.5x the fibre.
The B vitamins contained in whole grains help to keep our nervous system healthy and play a role in the metabolism of other nutrients. And finally, minerals such as iron and magnesium, to name but a few, can protect against anaemia and help to build healthy bones.
It’s not hard to see why they are a great food to have in your diet daily. It’s important to remember your portions, though; around a fist-sized serving per meal is a good amount to aim for.
2. Fruit and vegetables
The powerhouses of vitamins and minerals. These little beauties are packed full of antioxidants and fibre, which protect against heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.
Try to eat a variety of different colours and types to make sure you get a great mix of nutrients
Dark green leafy veggies are full of iron and folate, these certainly pack a punch when it comes to keeping your red blood cells healthy. Did you know they are low in calories too and a source of calcium? Perfect for keeping your bones healthy and filling up on when managing your weight.
Tomatoes, watermelon, red peppers are full of lycopene and carotenoids. These keep your eyes, skin and immune system healthy. The antioxidants also protect against cancer, heart attacks and stroke.
Oranges, squash, carrots contain antioxidants that protect against heart disease and cancers. These are great for your eyes, skin and immune system too. And did you know that the vitamin C in some of these can help you to absorb iron more effectively?
How can I get enough?
Sometimes it can feel like a task to fit enough fruit and veggies into your day, to give you a helping hand, take a look at out 5 top tips for eating more fruit and veggies:
- Add some to brekkie- throw berries in cereal, add spinach to your eggs or bung a banana on your toast
- Ask for extra veggies with meals when eating out. Don’t be shy, the worst they can say is no
- Make fruit and veggie sticks your go-to snacks for when you are peckish between meals
- Make home cooked meals complete with half a plate of vegetables
- Finish with fruit- it makes a great post-meal dessert.
3. Healthy proteins
Most people know that protein plays an important role in keeping your muscles healthy. But did you know that they can help with satiety too, which means they can help to keep you feeling full up for longer? Great news hey?!
So which are the good ones?
Beans and lentils- these are low in saturated fats and high in fibre, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc. They make great additions to salads, stews, curries, chilli and soups. They are especially quick and easy to use if you buy the canned variety- just open the can, give them a rinse and pop them in. Easy peasy!
Fish- High in good fats. The omega 3 fats in oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and tuna can help reduce inflammation and keep your heart healthy. Try to have at least a couple of servings a week.
Chicken/ turkey breast- Choose the skinless variety and try to bake, steam or grill rather than fry for the healthiest option.
Eggs- contain all 9 of our essential proteins and plenty of vitamins and minerals such as iron, B12, choline, iodine and selenium. They are a wonderful and versatile protein to include in meals or snacks daily.
While red meats are not off limits, they can be high in saturated fats which increase our LDL cholesterol. So rather than daily, try to have a portion of lean meat once or twice a week and keep to a palm-sized portion.
4. Healthy fats
Healthy fats are an important part of a balanced diet. They can help us manage our cholesterol levels, absorb fat soluble vitamins and play an important role in the structure of cell membranes. Not to mention, being a source of energy as well.
Not all fats are equal, though! There are 2 types of fats, saturated and unsaturated.
Unsaturated fats are the healthy type. They can help to lower our LDL cholesterol (the bad one) and keep HDL cholesterol (the good one) at a healthy level.
You can find good fats in:
Olive oil- A great addition to salads or frying over a low heat.
Avocado- Counts as a fruit and veg portion too! Around ½ an avocado is a serving
Nuts- as well as good fats, they contain protein, vitamins and minerals too! Unsalted nuts make a great snack in a small handful sized portion
Oily fish- Prevents inflammation and help keep our arteries flexible for a healthier heart
While healthy fats have a lot of benefits, they do contain calories. Hence, it’s important not to over do them if you are looking to lose or maintain your weight. As a guide, try to aim for around a teaspoon of added fats (oil/spreads) per meal.
5. Low-fat dairy
This is where we get our calcium hit! We know that the calcium and vitamin D contained within dairy foods and drinks play an important role in keeping our teeth and bones healthy. Not only that, the protein can promote fullness and the minerals can help manage blood pressure and promote heart health.
So where do we find low-fat dairy?
-Low fat or skimmed milk
-Low-fat, fat-free, plain yoghurts
-Calcium-fortified soy milk.
I know what you are thinking, how can you get more low-fat dairy in your life? Let us give you some suggestions:
- Choose oats or wholegrain cereal for brekkie with a good splash of low-fat milk
- Swap out your regular latte or cappuccino for a skinny version
- Snack on a serving of plain yoghurt and fruit
- Make a breakfast parfait with plain, low-fat, fat-free yoghurts
- Use plain yoghurt to make dips or dressings for salads.
- Drink a plain old glass of skim or low-fat milk.
So there we have it, 5 of the best foods to eat every day to help you stay the healthiest version of you!