We all know there is a lot of truth to the saying “You are what you eat.”
But knowing exactly what to eat can be confusing, especially when it comes to so-called superfoods.
These ingredients are nutrient-dense and full of vitamins and minerals.
And while a well-balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats is vital to sustaining our bodies on a day-to-day basis, there are some amazing foods that can play an important role in certain health conditions. .
Have the humble cup of tea. Scientists at the University of Reading discovered last week that two cups a day can help protect memory as we age thanks to the flavanols – naturally occurring chemicals – found in memory.
From type 2 diabetes to thrush, we asked experts Sophie Trotman and Cara Shaw to share superfoods you can add to your diet.
CHICKEN FOR IRON DEFICIENCY
CHICKEN is a great source of iron and protein, says nutritionist Sophie.
Roast a chicken and refrigerate the meat for the next few days, adding it to salads, soups and curries.
For plant-based iron options, choose potatoes, spinach and lentils. These sources are less easily absorbed by the body, so always be sure to pair plant-based sources of iron with sources of vitamin C, such as broccoli and chili peppers, says Sophie.
Cara, nutritional therapist for women’s health at crsnutrition.com, adds that it’s best to avoid iron supplements unless you’ve been diagnosed with iron deficiency by a doctor.
ONIONS FOR BEEHIVES
The itchy skin and bumps associated with hives can be very frustrating.
However, onions can help repel them.
Sophie says: Onions are good sources of quercetin, a natural plant compound with anti-allergenic and anti-inflammatory properties, which may help reduce hives symptoms.
Spring onions, shallots and leeks are also part of the onion family and can help.
Furthermore, they are also a prebiotic food, which makes them a useful ally for good intestinal health.
NUTS FOR DEPRESSION
THESE nuts are a pretty useful food to take care of our mental health.
Cara says: Walnuts contain omega-3s and antioxidants like vitamin E.
Omega-3 fatty acids are involved in maintaining the structural integrity of brain cells by promoting cell-to-cell communication in brain cells, therefore supporting overall cognitive function.
Snack on nuts or chop them and sprinkle them on porridge or salads.
SPINACH FOR MIGRAINE
IF you have ever suffered from migraines, you know how debilitating they can be.
But magnesium, found in foods like spinach, could help prevent them.
Sophie says: Magnesium plays a role in regulating neurotransmitters and blood vessels, which are thought to be involved in migraines.
Use frozen spinach, which is often fresher, as it’s typically frozen at the source, and is cheaper and less likely to go bad than unfrozen spinach in the back of the fridge.
OILY FISH FOR ECZEMA
SARDINES, mackerel and salmon are oily fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which Sophie says could help reduce the inflammation associated with eczema.
Vegetarian or vegan? Try flaxseeds, chia seeds, and/or walnuts, which are also good sources of omega-3s.
Oily fish also contain vitamin D, which is vital for inhibiting pro-inflammatory cytokines, which increase inflammation in the body.
Sophie adds: Vitamin D may also help maintain the integrity of the intestinal lining, by supporting the immune response and increasing tolerance to allergens, commonly seen in those with eczema.
GINGER FOR INGESTION
WHETHER you add fresh ginger to stir fries, curries and salad dressings, or to make warming ginger tea, this spice has long been used to ease digestive discomfort.
It can help reduce inflammation and soothe the digestive system, says Sophie.
TURMERIC FOR ARTHRITIS
THIS golden spice contains a compound called curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce the symptoms of arthritis.
Sophie says: Consume one to three grams of ground turmeric per day.
This amount typically contains about 200 milligrams of curcumin. Combine turmeric with black pepper to enhance its absorption.
You can take it as a supplement or add it as a spice to your food.
OATS FOR HIGH CHOLESTEROL
OATS contain soluble fiber, which can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, says Sophie.
She explains that high cholesterol can develop through a variety of factors, including poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking, and genetics.
Soluble fiber, such as that found in humble oats, helps lower cholesterol levels by binding to cholesterol in the digestive tract, reducing the amount of cholesterol that is absorbed into the bloodstream and promoting its excretion from the body.
POTATOES FOR HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
It’s the potassium in potatoes that can help keep your blood pressure at a healthy level.
Cara says: Potassium is a mineral that helps regulate sodium (salt) levels and counterbalance the effects of sodium in the body.
“Sodium can raise blood pressure by increasing water retention and narrowing blood vessels.
Potassium helps regulate fluid balance by promoting the excretion of sodium through the urine and the dilation of blood vessels.
Baked potatoes in their skins are the best way to get more potassium.
EGGS FOR POLYCYSTIC OVARY SYNDROME
PCOS is a hormonal disorder that affects women of reproductive age.
Sophie says: “Symptoms can include irregular menstrual cycles, excessive androgen levels and/or polycystic ovaries – they get enlarged.”
She adds, “Eggs are high in protein and can help stabilize blood sugar levels often affected by PCOS.”
Eggs also contain the nutrient choline, which is important for brain development and function, liver health, cell signaling, heart health, fetal development, and more.
GREEK YOGURT FOR DIABETES
Explaining how type 2 diabetes develops, Cara says: “Once you eat any carbohydrate, it’s converted into glucose (sugar) in your blood.
“The pancreas then releases insulin to get the glucose into the cells to be used.
“Refined carbohydrates can cause blood sugar levels to rise rapidly, leading to increased insulin production and ultimately insulin resistance.”
Greek yogurt is a high-protein, low-carb option that can help manage blood sugar levels — forget the fruit-flavored varieties, though.
Sophie says, “Opt for full-fat, unsweetened varieties and add your own low-sugar toppings like fresh berries or a sprinkle of cinnamon.”
GARLIC FOR BITES
We’re not suggesting you put garlic up there like old wives’ tales suggest.
Instead, Sophie recommends using fresh garlic regularly in savory meals. Why? Cara explains, “Garlic has antifungal properties that can help fight Candida overgrowth.
“Candida is a yeast that lives naturally in the intestines, mouth and vagina, and in a healthy immune system it usually doesn’t cause any problems.
“More than 60 percent of healthy adults have Candida living inside their bodies. If the balance of bacteria changes, an overgrowth of Candida can occur, which can present with a yeast infection such as thrush.”
PROBIOTIC FOODS FOR ACNE
Sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) and kimchi (fermented vegetables) are examples of probiotics that support gut health because they provide food for the various microbes that live in our gut.
Nutritionist Sophie Trotman says there’s often a link between acne breakouts and gut health: Probiotic foods can help reduce this facial inflammation for a clearer complexion.
KIWI FOR CONSTIPATION
Everyone SHOULD be consuming 30g of fiber per day, but current stats suggest they were falling below average.
On average, according to the British Dietetic Association, Brits eat just 18g, or 60% of what they should be.
Research studies have shown that kiwifruit consumption can trigger an increase in stool frequency and loose stool consistency, suggesting that kiwifruit could be used as a dietary alternative to laxatives in mild constipation, Cara says.
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