Forget all the health food fads, Jane Pikett presents the easy user guide to foods that are good for you
Not so long ago it was quinoa, but now it’s sorghum, don’t you know (no, me neither…).
If avocado was the fruit of 2016, jackfruit is at the top of every self-respecting health food addicts’ shopping list in 2017, while as for kale, that’s been replaced by seaweed and spirulina.
Fortunately, here in the real world, we’re more interested in taste and versatility than we are in fashion, and we’re still all over old favourites like turmeric (good for your brain), porridge oats (keep you full and fight cholesterol), and spinach (for precious Vitamin K).
Here’s more of what we’re eating this year:
• Avocado: Yes, it’s high in calories, but the avocado’s considerable health benefits include healthy blood flow, reduced cholesterol, and increased brain power. And it’s wonderful on sourdough toast drizzled with cold-pressed rapeseed oil and a scattering of pink Himalyan salt, obvs.
• Beans and lentils: Eating beans, peas, chickpeas and lentils can help you lose weight and fight cholesterol. They’re also cheap, tasty, bulk up endless dishes and are packed with iron, folate, fibre and protein.
• Beetroot: Beetroot is ridiculously good for you – full of iron, folate, nitrates, betaine, magnesium and other antioxidants, plus lots of good stuff we don’t have room to list here. It may also lower blood pressure, boost exercise performance and protect against dementia.
• Blueberries: The First World’s favourite super food, they’ve been credited with protecting against cancer, dementia and, possibly, solving the Middle East situation. Better for you with overnight oats than in muffins.
• Broccoli: Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable, which sounds like a spell out of Harry Potter, but in fact doses you up with vitamin C, folate and phytonutrients which may ward off cancer.
• Cauliflower: It’s not only one of the most versatile veggies on earth (cauliflower cheese, steaks, soup, roast, curried etc), it’s packed with cancer-fighting glucosinolates.
• Coconut oil: Apart from being brilliant for roasting potatoes, this is also fantastic as a skin moisturiser and hair conditioner. The jury appears to be out on whether it is any better or worse for you than other fats, but it is an essential ingredient in the appetite kitchen.
• Eggs: Eggs are now officially good for you, packed with Vitamins B12, B2 and B5, Vit A and selenium. Lovers of a high-protein diet advocate eggs for breakfast to help your body fight fat.
• Fish: Fish is among the healthiest food on the planet, packed with good fats and protein. Some even say it can ward off heart disease and boost your brain health. Oily fish is good for your heart, while white fish is high in protein and low in fat.
• Ginger: Ginger is fantastic for your digestion and is a brilliant natural remedy for nausea.
• Kale: Ridiculously good for you and said to ward off certain cancers, it’s also delicious and beloved of the super-skinny Hollywood set (kale crisps, anyone?).
• Oats: There’s a reason why big, strong Scotsmen eat porridge by the kilo, and that’s because oats are a rich source of magnesium, potassium and phytonutrients. They can ward off cholestrerol and prevent heart disease – more so if you lay off the whisky with your breakfast bowl of porridge.
• Tomatoes: We LOVE tomatoes in all their forms, and they are full of antioxidants and lycopene, which has been connected to bone and skin health. There are numerous other claims made for tomatoes – some scientifically tested and some merely anecdotal – but it is accepted that they are loaded with good stuff such as Vitamin C and beta-carotene, Vitamin E and magical manganese.
• Turmeric: Wonder spice turmeric is a fantastic brain food and has been linked with skin benefits and managing arthritis.
• Watercress: Packed with nutrients and phytochemicals said to protect against cancer, the mustard oil in watercress stems also has antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties so it’s great for your digestion.
• Water: Drink 3 litres every day for clearer skin, better kidney health, and efficient removal of toxins. Glug down a glassful before meals, and you’ll eat less.