When looking to improve your diet, it can seem very daunting not knowing where to start. With all of the health information out, it can be very daunting not knowing which foods are can actually provide significant health benefits and which ones are just hyped up.
Let me give you a little hint - every fresh fruit, vegetable, legume, grain, nut or seed can add benefits and help improve your health. When you eat food, unprocessed in it's natural form, as it's meant to be, you are eating all the minerals and nutrients that go along with it and thus adding to your heath.
In saying that if you are looking to add some healthier foods into your diet, here are my top 6 that can easily be incorporated and can actually make a significant difference to your health.
The humble avocado Over the past few years it has made quite the comeback with Smashed avocado on toast becoming quite a popular breakfast option.
And for a very good reason.
Apart from being a great butter alternative, it is loaded with monounsaturated healthy fats which have been shown to reduce inflammation, help improve brain function, cognition and memory and greatly improve skin. Avocados contain more potassium than bananas which has been linked to reduce blood pressure. Avocados are very versatile and can be used or breakfast on toast and in smoothies, as guacamole and combined with cocoa to make a chocolate mousse dessert.
Apart from being loaded with potassium, bananas are a great source of fibre with one medium banana containing 3.1grams. As bananas contain both of the fibres, pectin and Resistant starch, they have been shown to help moderate blood sugar levels and help with digestion. The magnesium in bananas also make them perfect for athletes as magnesium is great for getting rid of cramps post training. They are very versatile and can be used not only for smoothies for breakfast but can be frozen and added to cacao to make a chocolate mousse or made into healthy banana bread.
Nuts, and almonds in particular, are another great source of fibre. A 30g serving gives you 3.5g of the recommended 25g of fiber per day. They are also a great source of healthy monounsaturated fats with 9g being provided from a 30g handful. Being high in Vitamin E means they helps to protect your cells against oxidative stress and are loaded with other antioxidants. Almonds are very versatile, they are great to be able to have as a quick snack when you are on the go, at work or school, made into a nut mylk alternative to cows milk, can be added to salads or main dishes to add some extra flavour.
4. Chia seeds
Chia seeds are very overrated in my opinion and give a massive nutrient hit for a small portion size and relatively few calories. They are one of the highest source of fibre with 2 tablespoons delivering a whopping 11g. They are also a relatively good source of omega 3 fats, calcium and magnesium . They have been shown to help moderate weight loss due to the high fibre and protein content which can help keep you fuller for longer and reduce snacking throughout the day. One easy way to incorporate chia seeds is with your morning breakfast in a smoothie or add it to your oats.
Oats are a gluten free whole gain that are a very important source of important vitamins, minerals and nutrients. The properties within oats have been shown to help mediate and sustain weight loss, lower blood sugar levels and reduce risk of heart disease. Having oats as a hearty breakfast, have been shown to keep you fuller until later in the day and thus reducing snacking throughout the day. The soluble fibre Beta glucan, which is found in oats, has been clinically shown to reduce cholesterol and blood sugar levels and insulin response and increase the good bacteria in the gut.
Apart from being one of the highest sources of omega 3, this fatty fish is a great source of protein providing 22-25g per 100g serving. Omega 3's have been shown to benefit concentration, memory, cognition and improve brain function. Also being high in the majority of the B vitamins, giving you plenty of energy, reducing inflammation and repairing your DNA.