The six simple foods you should eat more of

By Susie Burrell

It's time to eat more coloured vegetables. Photo / Getty
It's time to eat more coloured vegetables. Photo / Getty

We are constantly bombarded with dietary information outlining what we should not be eating (less of that, avoid that, cut down there, choose this instead), it becomes tiring.

So here are a few of the superfoods that we should really be eating more of in order to get the myriad of health benefits that they offer.

1. Legumes

Whether you enjoy baked beans on your toast occasionally, a big Mexican cook up or lentils in your soup and salad, you are on the right track - we should all eat more legumes.

A vegetarian superfood, all beans are extremely nutritious containing a mix of low glycaemic index carbohydrates, dietary fibre and protein; their relatively high protein content making them a popular meat substitute for vegetarians.

The soluble fibre found in beans has been shown to help lower blood cholesterol levels and beans also contain high levels of B-group vitamins, iron, calcium, phosphorous, zinc and magnesium as well as folate.

While legumes are often used as the base of meals for vegetarians, beans can also be used in range of meals including mince, soups and salads for extra bulk and an extra nutrition hit. And best of all, legumes are extremely cheap, making them a most economical addition to any meal.

2. Probiotics

Whether you get them from yoghurt; a supplementary product or fermented vegetables, the evidence is mounting that the health of our gut can predict everything from immune function to weight control.

Yet our modern diets which have a large volume of highly processed foods appear to be slowly destroying the good bacteria in the gut, leaving our immune systems struggling.

Seeking out a natural or Greek yoghurt with added cultures is a good starting point to increase your intake of probiotics while some pickled vegetables, miso soup or a fermented drink such as kombucha or kefir will offer your digestive tract a range of different probiotics, all thought to contribute to a range of positive health and digestive benefits.

3. Green vegetables

They don't call kale a superfood for nothing. Whether your choice of daily greens is broccoli, kale, spinach, rocket or cabbage, it really does not matter. All we need to do is eat more of them. Packed with powerful antioxidants and cancer fighting molecules, there are nutritional benefits that come from both cooked and raw green vegetables.

This means including them in a daily green juice or smoothie, as well as cooked in olive oil a couple of times each day will help to maximise your nutrition every single day.

4. Orange vegetables

When talking about vegetables our focus is often on the green varieties but let's not forget about the nutritional powerhouse that is orange/ red/ yellow vegetables - pumpkin, red capsicum, sweet potato, carrots - all packed full of vitamin C and beta carotene, one of the most powerful natural antioxidants.

While exposing these veggies to excessive heat can destroy some of the vitamin C, serving them cooked is suggested as the lycopene content increases in these veggies when they are served lightly cooked.

5. Shellfish

We often hear about the health benefits of consuming fish regularly but let's not forget about the nutrients shellfish offers. Prawns, oysters, mussels, and crab are all exceptionally good sources of the key nutrients iodine and zinc.

Iodine is of particular importance as a low intake can negatively impact thyroid function long term. And contrary to popular belief the cholesterol naturally found in shellfish does not increase blood cholesterol levels which means you should enjoy as much shellfish as you can afford.

6. Green tea

We all have our favourite cup of tea or coffee but there's extra health benefits that come from drinking green tea.

Not only is green tea a rich source of powerful antioxidants that help to prevent cell related damage but there is also some evidence to show that green tea may increase fat metabolism. Any variety is a good choice, and a great addition after meals to help neutralise sugar cravings. Aim for at least a couple of cups each day.

- news.com.au

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