It’s time to shift the focus away from the foods we shouldn’t be eating, and shine the light on some of the fabulously nutritious foods in life.
They are so great that you don’t have to go to a health food store to buy them, or earn a six figured wage to afford them. Their nutritional values have been long recognised, and they don’t need to marketed as a superfood to sell.
Yeah, okay, so maybe Uncle Toby’s started labelling the humble oat a superfood, but I guess you could call that evolution. A sign of the times. Oats start out as Groats and as they are dehulled, cut, kilned, steamed and rolled, different varieties such as steel cut, scottish, muesli, traditional/rolled and quick oats are produced.
The starchy carbohydrates in oats provide a natural source of energy which help our bodies and brain power through until lunchtime. Oats are one of the lowest glycaemic index wholegrain and provide many nutrients including dietary fibre, antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, lignans and phytonutrients. They are rich in the soluble fibre beta-glucan which is found in the bran and endosperm layer of the grain. Beta-glucan has been demonstrated to lower cholesterol levels by inhibiting the re-absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream. Oats are also a source of thiamin and magnesium which are important for the supply of energy, carbohydrate breakdown, and numerous other processes within the body.
Oats are gluten free BUT due to potential contamination with wheat in the field or across the supply-chain, they cannot be labelled as gluten free in Australia and New Zealand. Also, they contain a protein called avenin, and some clinical studies have shown that this can cause a reaction and intestinal damage in approximately 20% of Ceoliac disease sufferers. Ceoliac Australia recommends that for individual wishing to consume oats as part of the gluten free diet, a biopsy prior to and 3 months during regular oat consumption should be done to determine its safety on the individual.
Naturally low in sodium, a bowl of porridge or muesli is a great breakfast choice. Try to choose rolled oats over the quick variety, as the processing does reduce the fibre content. Make your porridge with milk rather than water to boost the protein content and add some very important calcium. Top with greek yoghurt, nuts, seeds and some fruit and you’ll have yourself a nutrient dense breakfast that will keep you full till lunch time!
2. GREEK YOGHURT
As far as I’m concerned, if I have no greek yoghurt in my fridge I have nothing in my fridge. I have a problem.
Aside from the obvious benefits on bone health, greek yoghurt varieties contain twice the protein than natural yoghurt, which makes for a satisfying snack or great addition to your bowl of morning muesli.
Unlike other yoghurts, greek yoghurt is strained to remove the whey. Removing the whey also removes water, and results in the thick and creamy texture that has us thinking we’re indulging in full fat cream. This texture also makes it incredibly versatile in the kitchen.
The major benefit of greek yoghurt is that it contains probiotics. Probiotics are live micro-organisms that help stimulate the good bacteria that live in our guts and keep our digestive tract healthy. Probiotics help improve digestion, reduce bloating and diarrhoea, relieves the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and help prevent the overgrowth of bad bacteria.
I’m super lucky that my mother has chooks (which sometimes I think she loves more than me), and I often leave home with a supply of eggcellent eggs.
Eggs are nutrient powerhouses, always available on the supermarket shelf and super easy to cook. One egg contains up to 7 grams of high biological value protein, and the provide valuable B vitamins, essential omega-3 fatty acids, iron, selenium. They also contain approximately 5g of fat and their cholesterol content has caused eggs to get a bad rap for years. But before you go throwing away the yolks folks, the yolk contains half the protein and the Heart Foundation recommends that within a diet that is low in saturated fat, all Australians can enjoy up to 6 eggs a week without adversely affecting their risk of heart disease. Hooray!
So, make sure you keep up a supply. They make a quick breakfast, lunch or dinner. Hardboiled eggs also make a good snack, and you’ll need that egg for that cake you plan to bake too..
Generally frozen, rarely fresh. I actually think I like them better frozen. And they are nutritionally as good, with a student-friendly price tag.
Blueberries are full of antioxidants such as Vitamin C and A, which makes them berry berry good for you. When our body metabolises oxygen, unstable molecules called ‘free radicals’ are produced. These free radicals can damage DNA and other cells and have been linked to heart disease, liver disease and cancer. Antioxidants neutralise these free radicals and protect the body from the damage they can cause. Pretty cool. They taste delicious, make your food go purple (that’s the anthocyanin pigment!) and are low in kilojoules too. I love to have blueberries with my morning muesli, or chucked in my pancakes or muffins, or frozen with greek yoghurt for an after dinner snack.
Or any other cruciferous vegetable for that matter. The other day I looked in the crisper and I had broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, red cabbage AND tuscan kale. Today not so much. Cauliflower’s were $7 EACH in woolies yesterday!
Cruciferous vegetables are part of the Brassica group of plants. They are packed full of fibre which helps keep you full and away from the cookie jar. Plus they are low in kilojoules and high in water, so they can help with weight maintenance too. Fibre has also been linked to lower rates of Type 2 Diabetes and cardiovascular disease. They are a rich in vitamin and minerals including vitamins A and C, folate, potassium and magnesium which are beneficial for protecting our hearts, immune systems, eyes, reducing the risk of cancer..The list goes on, and on.
You can eat them raw or cooked, from fresh or frozen. Team with other vegetables such as carrots or capsicum, and make sure you fill about half your plate with these good guys.
I’m absolutely nuts about nuts. In particular, almonds (and peanut butter but that’s for another day). Not only are almonds delicious and super versatile, they are packed with heaps of health benefits.
Almonds are a rich source of healthy unsaturated fats, vitamin E and plant sterols which are all really important in keeping our blood cholesterol within a healthy range and ensuring our hearts stay healthy. They also contain iron, zinc and calcium too, which is valuable for our vegetarian and vegan friends. For all you non-dairy folks, a 30g serve (about 20 almonds) provides about 70mg Calcium so these will be a welcome addition to your diets. Like all plant foods, almonds are a source of dietary fibre and help keep our digestive system healthy.
Studies have also been shown to improve blood glucose control, and contrary to popular belief, help with weight management. So it’s time for you to go nuts about nuts. Enjoy a small handful as a snack, use almond meal in your cake mixes or pancakes (makes them so moist!) or sprinkle in your stir fries or on your porridge.
What six foods do you always stock at home?