I love summer time in Canada, when I can get fresh vegetables from my fathers vegetable garden! The picture above is taken from his vegetable garden in October! There's nothing like fresh vegetables, isn't it!
Today I want to share with you the essentials on my shopping list and things that I always make sure I have in my house. I also added why I love some of these foods and why they're really good for you.
*See below why I love them so much
Fish is packed full of healthy fats, in particular omega 3’s. Omega 3’s are essential fatty acids meaning the bodyproduce them and we must get them from our diet. EPA and DHA are types of omega 3’s that are found in oily fish. These fishy oils have great health benefits (especially for the heart) that are backed by years of scientific research. Fish oils have been shown to improve and lower heart rate, reduce the risk of blood clots, reduce plaque build up in arteries, reduce blood pressure, decrease unhealthy blood fats and increase healthy blood cholesterol (HDL cholesterol). Fish oils have anti inflammatory properties which help protect against rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, stroke & diabetes. They can also protect against Alzheimer’s, dementia and depression and help maintain healthy eye and brain tissue. Good sources of omega 3’s include salmon, mackerel, trevalla & sardines. It’s recommended to have 2-3 serves (150g) of oily fish each week. Fish is also full of protein and low in calories too. Healthy ways to cook fish include grilling, poaching, steaming and baking or else canned fish is a good alternative especially for lunches or a snack.
Berries contain some of the highest antioxidant levels of any fruit or vegetable. And I’m not talking about the hyped up expensive goji and acai berries but good old strawberries, cranberries, blackberries, raspberries and especially blueberries. Antioxidants help to repair and protect against damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are formed through normal bodily processes but when they accumulate or there are not enough antioxidants to neutralise them cell damage can occur. Antioxidants can help protect against heart diseases, arthritis, some cancers, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and may even help prevent wrinkles! Berries contain antioxidants such as vitamin C and A, polyphenols and flavonoids pterostilbene and anthocyanins which give berries their vibrant colors. Not only do berries taste delicious they are very low in calories too. Berries can be quite expensive when not in season but frozen berries are just as good. Throw some on top of cereal, in pancake or muffin mix, in yoghurt, on toast with cottage cheese, in fruit salad or as a sweet healthy snack!
Yoghurt is a great source of calcium, good quality protein and (can be) low in fat. What makes it a ‘superfood’ is because yoghurt contains good bacteria or probiotic cultures. Probiotics are live micro-organisms that help improve and stimulate the good bacteria that live in our guts. The human gut contains a couple of kilos of bacteria which helps to keep the digestive tract healthy. Probiotics also have other health benefits such as improving digestion, reducing bloating, relieving symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, reducing diarrhoea, prevents overgrowth of bad bacteria and plays a role in immune function. The calcium in yoghurt is great for bone health and low fat yoghurts are low GI and contain protein which makes it a great snack to help us feel fuller for longer. But BEWARE of sugar laden high fat yoghurts!! Look out for low fat natural and Greek style yoghurts which usually are lower in sugar and calories. My favourite brands are Jalna fat free natural yoghurt and Chobani fat free Greek yoghurt. Yoghurt is great as a snack, on cereal, with fruit, as a salad dressing or as a substitute for cream in recipes.
OLIVES and EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
The main type of fat found in all kinds of olives and olive oil is monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). MUFAs are actually considered a healthy dietary fat. If your diet replaces saturated and trans fats with unsaturated fats such as MUFAs and polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs), you may gain certain health benefits. Olive oil is oil that is pressed from olives, the fruits of the olive tree. Olive oil that is truly extra virgin has a distinctive taste and is high in phenolic antioxidantsthe main reason why (real) olive oil is so beneficial. Olives and extra virgin olive oil cause possible reduction in inflammation such as in coronary artery disease and downregulation of oxidative LDL (‘bad cholesterol) as well as possible anti-aging effects in skin.
NUTS and SEEDS
Go nuts for NUTS!! There are so many reasons why nuts and seeds are great for our health. They contain zinc, calcium, magnesium, selenium, vitamin E and the healthy poly and mono unsaturated fats. Not only that they also contain antioxidants and plant sterols which help to ward off chronic diseases. Regular nut consumption has been linked with reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes. Evidence suggests that nuts can help lower bad blood cholesterol, reduce high blood pressure and inflammation and help control and lower blood sugar levels. Nuts are also high in protein & fibre and have a low GI which makes them a great filling snack and they may help to suppress hunger too. Studies have shown that people who include portion controlled servings of nuts in their diets are more successful with weight loss and weight maintenance. Nuts are high in good fats which also make them high in calories. Stick to 1 serve per day which is 30g (about 1/3 cup) or about 15-20 mixed nuts. It may not seem like much but you will still get great health benefits and you will be surprised by how filling they are. Go for the raw unsalted nuts and seeds and try sprinkling them on breakfast cereal or yoghurt, in stir fries, salads, curries or as a delicious healthy snack.