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100 Star Foods for Super Health!

So why not aim to up your intake of healthy ingredients? Here I've identified 100 of the best on Planet Earth, beginning with the most important group – fruit and vegetables.

Fruit and Vegetables

Although the UK Government recommends a daily intake of five portions of fruit and veg, experts say this should be the bare minimum. Nine or ten is a better figure to aim for. In fact, a recent study from the US National Cancer Institute found that women who ate ten servings of fruit and veg each day lowered their risk of having a heart attack by 40%. For each additional serving, you lower your risk of heart disease by an additional 4%. I find that a target of ten is easy to achieve if you make stir fries, stews and casseroles. 

THE BASICS

Red and orange peppers are rich in disease-fighting antioxidants, they contain three times as much vitamin C as citrus fruit, and they have antibacterial qualities.

Broccoli a cancer fighting veg, it's high in Calcium, folate and antioxidants.

Carrots they have cholesterol lowering properties and are rich in Vitamin A, which is good for your eyes.

Sweet potatoes are rich in Fibre, vitamin C, folate, iron, copper and calcium; sweet potatoes are also bursting with Vitamin A.

Watercress are packed with folate, iron and betacarotene, and good for cardiovascular and thyroid function, too.

Tomatoes - they're packed with vitamin C and the antioxidant lycopene.

Red cabbage is rich in fibre, vitamin C, betacarotene and disease-fighting sulphorate.

Blueberries are loaded with anthocyans, vitamin C and fibre. A great source of disease-fighting antioxidants.

Apples are rich in Vitamin C and soluble fibre, which is gentler on your gut than insoluble fibre.

Peaches are very easily digested and have a cleansing effect on your kidneys and bladder, too.

Superboosters

Asparagus - High in nutrients, especially vitamin K (important for blood clotting) and folic acid. A good liver tonic.

Beansprouts - Rich in vitamin B3, which keeps down cholesterol levels and regulates blood sugar. Also rich in biochemicals that aid digestion.

Aubergines - Full of calcium and betacarotene, aubergines are good for the cardio-vascular system

Mangetout - Good source of fibre and rich in vitamins A, C and K.

Watermelon - An 'anti-aging' fruit that's rich in lycopene and immune-boosting vitamin C.

Pineapple - Contains bromelain, an important digestive enzyme that kills bacteria. It's an anti-bloat food, too.

Raspberries - Provides around 40% of your daily dose of vitamin C as well as other powerful antioxidants.

Kiwi fruit - Very rich in immune-boosting vitamin C, magnesium and potassium, which are vital for healthy nerves and muscles. One kiwi contains your reference nutrient intake of vitamin C.

Cranberries - Rich in anti-aging antioxidants; help prevent the build-up of plaque in the arteries and may help to prevent urinary tract infections.

Pomegranate - Hailed as a new superfruit, thanks to high levels of Vitamins A, C & E and other antioxidants.

Goji Berries - These Asian fruits contain up to 21 trace minerals. They're said to be the richest source of carotenoids, including beta-carotene, of all known foods. Available as dried fruits from healthfood shops.


Carbohydrates

There are two kinds of carbohydrate: complex and simple. Normally in life we're told to keep things simple and avoid overcomplicating things; however, with carbohydrates, we should do the opposite! Simple carbohydrates are all the naughty ones like chocolates, cakes and sweets that provide us with 'empty' calories - calories galore with very few useful nutrients thrown in for good measure! The problem with simple carbohydrates is that their high concentration of sugar breaks down very quickly, giving you an energy 'high' followed quickly by an energy 'low'.

In contrast, complex carbohydrates like oats, millet, maize, rice and wheat provide us with energy in a slow-release form, and they provide us with vitamins and minerals. 

Brown rice - Good source of energy, as well as B Vitamins.

Pearl barley - Linked with lower cholesterol levels, good for the digestive tract and contains zinc, which boosts the immune system.

Oats - A superb energy source, rich in fibre, they reduce cholesterol and are packed with minerals and vitamin B5 – important for hair, skin and nails.

Quinoa - Good source of protein, vitamin E and iron, plus zinc, which is good for the immune system.

Spelt - A distant relative of wheat, but it's more easily absorbed by the body.

Rye
 - Contains iron and B vitamins. Regular intakes of rye are linked with lower rates of heart disease.

Buckwheat - High in protein, use this gluten-free grain in flour form for bread, pancakes etc.

Millet - This gluten-free carb is great as an alternative to rice. Contains zinc, iron, vitamins B3 and E.

Soba Noodles - Usually made from buckwheat, they may have wheat flour added. Contain selenium and zinc.

Couscous - A source of slow release carbohydrate, it's rich in vitamin B3, which provides energy. Also rich in minerals and vitamin B5 – important for healthy hair, skin and nails.

Bulgur/cracked wheat - Both good sources of slow-releasing carbs.


Protein

Protein is essential for growth and repair. As for how much to eat, a rough guide is to clench your fist and eat the same volume of protein with every meal! 

THE BASICS

Walnuts: A good source of omega-3's and antioxidants.
Shellfish: Most varieties are high in omega-3 fatty acids and zinc.
Turkey: Rich source of vitamin B12, potassium, zinc and iron.
Chickpeas: Rich in phyto-oestrogens, which are linked with lower rates of some cancers.
Eggs: One egg provides a third of your Vitamin B12 needs, essential for the nervous system.
Kidney Beans: Great Source of fibre and are rich in complex carbs.
Tofu: Low-fat protein that contains some iron, zinc and B vitamins.
Mackerel: The richest fish source of omega-3's.
Edamame: A soya bean that's rich in cancer-fighting isoflavones.
Venison: Lower in saturated fats than other red meats.

SUPERBOOSTERS
Mussels: Provide an excellent supply of B12. Rich in selenium and iodine, which helps thyroid function.
Mung Beans: Most nutrititious when sprouted, they're rich in minerals, phyto-oestrogens and vitamin C.
Rabbit: Lower in fat than other red meats and is rich in iron, zinc and vitamin B12.
Pumpkin: seeds A particularly good source of iron and zinc.
Dulse (seaweed): High in vitamin B, iron and potassium.

Seasonal Produce

Local, seasonal foods will be fresher and more nutrient-rich. Here are some around in the colder months, when we're in even more need of a healthy diet.

Artichoke: Rich in fibre, vitamin c, potassium and magnesium, they're good for digestion.
Acorn squash: Packed with nutrients that benefit your eyes, blood pressure and immunity.
Celeriac: Contains potassium, phosphorus, vitamin C and fibre.
Beetroot: High in vitamin C, betacarotene, magnesium, iron and folic acid.
Red onion: Rich in cancer-fighting quercetin.
Brussels sprouts: Loaded with folic acid and suphotaphane, thought to be a potent anti-carcinogen.
Passion fruit: A good source of vitamins A and C, passion fruit is thought to aid sleep.
Satsumas: Excellent source of vitamin C and folate.
Kale: Full of iron and folic acid, and easy to use in stir-fries.

Fats and Oils

Healthy Fats are important for your metabolism and absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K, for brain development and feelings of satiety. Aim for no more than 70g a day.

Flaxseed oil: Rich in fatty acids thought to prevent heart disease.
Rapeseed oil: A healthy cooking oil and a source of omega-3's.
Avocado: Contains vitamin E, so it's great for your skin.
Olive oil: Rich in oleic acid, which helps you absorb omega-3's.
Hazelnut oil: High in omega-9's and contains vitamin E.

Herbs and Spices

These provide trace elements, have medicinal properties and help create different flavours and textures, enabling you to experiment with a wider variety of foods.
Ginger: Good for digestion and is also anti-inflammatory.
Garlic: This has antibacterial, antiviral and antiseptic qualities.
Mint: Contains vitamin C, calcium and iron.
Turmeric: Containing curcumin, it has anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting effects.
Cinnamon: A warming spice useful for treating colds, stomach pains and poor circulation.
Bay leaves: They provide traces of iron and phosphorus, and are good for digestion.
Rosemary: A good stimulant for your immune system and a powerful antioxidant.
Chives: They contain compounds that may help to lower blood cholesterol levels.
Coriander: Good tonic for your stomach, heart and urinary tract.
Dill: Antibacterial herb that's a good source of calcium.
Fennel: Known for its diuretic effects, traditionally used to relieve intestinal cramps.
Parsley: Contains vitamin C, folic acid and betacarotene.
Sage: is an anti-inflammatory and is good for digestion.
Thyme: Known best for its antioxidant properties.

Plus...

PMS BEATERS

Sunflower and pumpkin seeds: These help beat inflammation.
Porridge: its slow-release energy may help control sugar cravings.
Bananas: Contain serotonin, which boosts mood, and their potassium may help beat fluid retention, too.
Lentils: Loaded with magnesium – low levels may cause cramps.
Wholegrains: Rich in vitamin B6 and B1, which help beat cramps.
Celery: Contains phytochecmicals that may help calm nerves.
Spinach: Rich in folate – low levels have been linked to depression.

ANTI-AGERS

Green tea: Rich in catechin polyphenols, which slow the signs of aging
Pink grapefruit: Contains lycopene, which mops up free radicals.
Salmon: Contains dimethylaminoe-thanol, a powerful antioxidant.

BRAIN FEEDERS

Basil: Used by herbalists for its antidepressant properties.
Strawberries: Rich in antioxidants that are said to aid concentration.
Yeast: extract Filled with brain-boosting B vitamins.
Sardines: Bursting with omega-3 fatty acids.

SLEEP BOOSTERS

Fig: This fibrous fruit contains sleep-inducing tryptophan.
Wild lettuce: Leafy greens that contain the sedative lactucarium.
Sesame seeds: Their omega-6s support healthy sleep patterns.

GET ADVENTUROUS

  • Nettles are used in herbal teas and have purifying properties.
  • Physalis is high in vitamin C.
  • Daikon radishes are rich in iron and high in antioxidants
  • Acai berries are antibacterial.
  • Papaya aids digestion.
  • Okra is a good veg source of calcium.
  • Miso paste is rich in phyto-oestrogens.
  • Guavas are high in vitamin C.

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