Compare our diet to 50 years ago, it is astonishing how far we have advanced in our consumption of very exotic and tasty foods from around the world.
But why is it that the food we seem to enjoy eating most is bad for us and healthy food doesn’t always seem as exciting!? Why is it that unhealthy foods are so easily available, cheap and so addictive? Why can’t the same be true for healthy foods?
I think we all understand how it works, foods are processed to make them more viable from a business point of view. To make a food product more profitable you’d want it to be as tasty as possible, (add sugar and/or salt) and make it last as long as possible, (add preservatives). With a good marketing campaign behind you, you have the perfect recipe to sell tasty, addictive, profitable, long lasting foods.
Unfortunately to be healthy, foods need to be as ‘naked’ as possible. So no processing or refining to make them last longer and/or taste nicer. We are naturally built to eat fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and occasionally meats and as fresh as possible in their natural state. As soon as anything is done to them by way of processing or refining our bodies struggle to deal with this type of ‘unnatural’ food.
Obviously our bodies are very good as breaking down all types of food, and we become very conditioned to the diet that is available to us. But, in the West we have recently had an abundance of unnatural foods that our bodies are struggling to handle.
Also the amount of food can be a modern issue.
Numerous studies have consistently shown that eating little and often is far healthier than eating a lot occasionally. So 4-6 small meals a day is far better than 2-3 large meals. This might be because our ancestors would naturally graze on fruit and berries etc all day… rather than eat a large meal at fixed times.
Also, test have shown that people who live on a low calorific diet are generally far healthier and live longer healthier lives. Again, this has probably got a lot to do with how we would have survived in the wild.
So, what are shown to be the very best foods that are easily available to us today?
Here they are, in no particular order:
Popeye was definitely on to something — eating spinach even before we knew about superfoods! Spinach is filled with antioxidants, including vitamin C and beta-carotene, as well as lutein and zeaxanthin — a duo that acts like sunscreen for your eyes and guards against macular degeneration. One cup of fresh spinach leaves also provides almost double the daily requirement for vitamin K, which plays an important role in cardiovascular and bone health. And of course you can't forget that spinach is a great vegetarian source of iron, which keeps your hair and nails strong and healthy. Use fresh spinach leaves as a base for salad or sauté it and add to an omelette.
This fruit is fabulously portable, so there’s no excuse not to include grapes in your healthy eating plan. They may strengthen your eyes, help with circulation, and may even fight cancer and kidney stones.
6. Salmon and other fatty fish
Salmon is a rich source of protein, vitamin D, selenium, B2, B3, B6 and B12 and those all-important omega-3 fatty acids. So exactly what can salmon do for you? Quite a bit, including protection from cancer, cardiovascular problems, macular degeneration, depression, and cognitive decline – that’s a lot of pluses in a pretty compact package. The best salmon to buy? Wild caught, Alaskan salmon, which routinely ranks low in contaminants and high in nutrients. Wild salmon’s benefits start to kick in at about 2 servings a week, so there’s no need to over-do it.
Dairy free chocolate, in moderation, is a delicious treat that actually does a body good. It can help elevate mood, improve blood flow and even lower blood pressure. It helps reduce inflammation and LDL “bad cholesterol,” and it’s loaded with antioxidants, which can help prevent cell damage, degenerative diseases and even cancer – all of which is good news for chocolate lovers. Keep in mind though, chocolate’s numerous health benefits are not a license to set up camp in the sweet aisle. You have to manage your “dose,” keeping yours to a modest 1 oz. serving, a few times a week. To maximize chocolate’s benefits, look for high-quality, dairy-free dark chocolate that’s at least 70% cocoa – and enjoy!
Olive oil is also rich in antioxidants - it's probably one of the key protective aspects of the so-called Mediterranean diet.
Watch out for the calories - a little goes a long way. A tablespoon of oil contains 120 kilocalories, which is the same as a large slice of bread and butter.
What are your favourite super foods? What are your vices? I’d love to hear your comments.
By Kevin Goodwin, Direct Cleaners ltd, http://www.directcleaners.com