The two main contributors to a healthy lifestyle are fairly well established – eating the right foods, and making sure we get regular exercise. In terms of the right foods, the most obvious are perhaps fruit and vegetables, and it’s important to make sure we get enough. If you are concerned about living a healthy lifestyle, then some of the best foodstuffs to incorporate in your diet also include nuts, seeds, grains, legumes, lean meat and fish.
We understand that overhauling your diet completely may seem daunting, we’ve tried to break it down – introducing just one new fruit, vegetable, nut or oily fish into your diet can work wonders. That, on top of replacing some of your usual unhealthy choices for better, healthier alternatives, can make a real difference. Here’s some suggestions:
Introduce a fruit
Apples are perhaps one of the most nutritious fruits, particularly for their high levels of antioxidants. An antioxidant is a molecule that inhibits oxidisation, a process in our bodies that produces cell-damaging free radicals. They are anti-aging and can reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease, leading them to be hailed a ‘magical fruit’. It is not difficult to incorporate an apple a day into our diet, and the benefits can be significant.
Blueberries are a rich source of fibre and antioxidants. Studies have shown that eating blueberries regularly can help to prevent cognitive decline and can help us to maintain a healthy bodyweight. When eaten regularly, the bioactive compounds in blueberries can help to combat high blood pressure.
Introduce a vegetable
Broccoli can be eaten raw or cooked and loaded with vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, B1, B6 and E, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and copper. It is also a rich source of fibre (which promotes good digestive health), omega-3 fatty acids (which can decrease our risk of heart disease), zinc (which can help control diabetes and boost metabolism), calcium (which builds and maintains strong bones), iron (which is good for our red blood cells and keeps us from feeling lethargic), and also contains comparatively more protein than most other vegetables (which is vital for healthy muscles, skin, bones and blood).
Kale has become increasingly popular as a healthfood in recent years, largely because it is low in calories (one cup of kale contains 36 calories), high in fibre (one cup of kale contains 5g fibre) and, perhaps most attractively, has zero fat. In fact, kale is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet – it contains vitamins A, B6, C and K, manganese, calcium, copper, potassium and magnesium. Eating kale will improve your digestive health, lower cholesterol, reduce your risk of heart disease and even has cancer-fighting properties due to a substance called sulforaphane.
Introduce a nut
Almonds, part of the nut family, are a rich source of nutrients, including magnesium, iron, calcium, vitamin E, fibre and riboflavin. Their main benefit is in their ability to regulate bodily functions and balance our cholesterol levels. They also make a good snack for those interested in losing weight, particularly in their salted variety, as they help to satisfy us between meals and help keep hunger pangs at bay (meaning we’re not as tempted to reach for unhealthy alternatives).
Introduce oily fish
Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines are a good source of vitamin D, protein and selenium and are known to help prevent against numerous diseases, including cardiovascular disease, prostate cancer, age-related vision loss and even dementia. In fact, it has been found that consuming just one portion of oily fish twice a week can help to reduce the risk of rheumatoid arthritis. It’s also full of omega-3, a type of fat that is actually good for our health.
Introduce a healthy sweet treat
When you’re craving something sweet, don’t reach for the biscuit tin. Instead, curb your cravings with dark chocolate. A powerful source of antioxidants, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, magnesium, zinc, phosphorous and selenium, dark chocolate can help to improve blood flow, lower blood pressure, lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, protect your skin against the sun and even improve brain function.
If this doesn’t hit the spot, and you’re not necessarily trying to lose weight, try any of a large variety of dates. Sticky, sweet and delicious, dates are a perfect alternative to sugary snacks, and are brimming with vitamins, nutrients and minerals, and can help to relieve constipation, prevent intestinal disorders, facilitate weight gain, boost energy levels and promote good heart health.
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