Healthy eating is the hardest thing to do. Hands up, how many times you’ve opted for convenient fast food despite knowing that you will regret this decision when you have to run an extra mile the next day? I can’t be the only one who has the pizza delivery hotline on speed dial, right? But between juggling work, family and my social life, who has time to slave away in the kitchen for a wholesome meal? Plus, isn’t it much easier to open a bag of chips than to toss a salad together?
Well, that was my excuse until I met superfoods. You see, superfoods are so called because they are packed with vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants and more often than not, are also low in calories. Superfoods will help keep you feeling and looking healthy, inside-out and can be found easily in any supermarket. I’ve picked out four that don’t require any cooking!
Yes, healthy eating is easy like 1-2-3! Credit: Corbis images
The little blue fruits are the MPVs of healthy food. Flavonoids, antioxidants, soluble fibre, potassium and vitamin C are all found in blueberries. They help prevent diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease and more. A study done by the Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School has revealed that blueberries are also rich in anthocyanins, a kind of flavonoid that lowers blood pressure and makes blood vessels more elastic. These anthocyanins also aid in the anti-ageing battle by protecting the skin against harmful free radicals.
Tip: Have at least three half-cup servings of blueberries a week to reap heart-loving benefits. Don’t worry about using frozen ones – they are as good as fresh ones. Remember that the bluer the blueberries are, the more antioxidants they have!
These nuts are a good source of antioxidants, vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, copper and manganese. Researchers from the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center in the US have found that adding walnuts to one’s diet can help protect one against diabetes and heart disease. An extra incentive to chomp on walnuts are that they are highly satiating – you feel full longer – which plays a major part in weight control!
Tip: Just seven – yes, seven – walnuts a day will help you load up on all the omega-three fatty acid, protein and anti-inflammatory polyphenols you need, especially after a particular tough workout.
Here’s another superfood that helps with portion control – tiny chia seeds. Add them to any drink and they will swell to more than five times their original size to help your stomach feel satisfied faster. Apart from being rich in antioxidants, protein and insoluble fibre – the latter to help your digestive system running – the chia seed has the richest source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, based on a study published in the Nutrition Research journal. That’s super news for vegetarians. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and more.
Tip: To hit your daily recommended omega-3 intake, all it takes is one or two tablespoons of chia seeds. I like to mix them with water whenever I get the mid-afternoon munchies.
Yoghurt’s known for being full of calcium and full of active probiotics that help both your digestive and immune system. Did you know that it has also got protein and minerals like potassium, iodine and zinc that keep the body functioning at tip top level? In fact, the calcium and amino acid content (protein) in yogurt helps keep your stomach fat under control. A study done at the University of Tennessee in the US showed that calcium will help with regulating cortisol production – the hormone cortisol is produced by fat and aids in the accumulation of more fat – and amino acids burn off fat.
Tip: If you aren’t the sort to chug down milk, eight ounces of yoghurt equals a cup of milk – and you need three one cup servings of dairy products each day. Not a fan of the tart taste? Add a piece of dark chocolate – chocolate with at least 70 percent of cocoa is another superfood that’s rich in flavonoids and antioxidants.