9. Herbs & Spices esp. Parsley, rosemary, turmeric, ginger, chilli & garlic – all completely packed with anti-oxidants, using these herbs and spices does so much more than just adding flavour to a dish. You will massively increase the health properties by adding herbs and spices. Parsley is a great source of iron and a breath freshener; rosemary is great for aiding concentration & memory, so have a fresh sprig or some essential oil with you when studying / taking exams etc. Rosemary also aids digestion, helps to soothe nerves and can help with menstrual cramps. Turmeric is strongly anti-inflammatory as is ginger. Ginger is also really good for digestion and helps with morning sickness and travel sickness. Chillies are thermogenic – so boost metabolism, they are good for the heart, for circulation and they are also anti-inflammatory and are considered strongly anti-cancer. Garlic go back to No.1!
10. Cider Vinegar – see my earlier blog on unpasteurized, unfiltered apple cider vinegar. It is such a great health tonic
11. Nuts & Seeds – I just had to include this group of foods – little bundles of heart- healthy fats, blood sugar balancing proteins, gut-friendly fibre and energy sustaining complex carbohydrates. They are also high in a range of vitamins and minerals, so they make a great snack food – ideally unsalted and unroasted.
The real heroes of this group are raw almonds – high in calcium and magnesium, so great for bone health; the healthy fats are good for heart health and almonds are really good for reducing high levels of bad cholesterol. The wide range of nutrients in almonds also supports immune function and the nervous system. Walnuts, Brazils, hazlenuts and macadamias are all good to have handy when you fancy a snack.
When it comes to seeds, pumpkin seeds are really high on my list. Containing good levels of zinc and omega 3 they are great to add to salads or to snack on with nuts. Flax seeds are great too. Well known for their high omega 3 content, flax seeds are often used as vegetarian source of this very essential fatty acid but, as previously blogged, plant sources of omega 3 are not well used by the body. However, flax seeds still offer very high levels of soluble and insoluble fibre, they are packed with B vitamins, high in antioxidants and they are high in lignans which are really good for balancing sugar and controlling insulin levels. They are also very high in phyto-oestrogens – more to come on these incredible but controversial plant ‘hormones’.
I get a good daily dose of seeds by freshly grinding a tablespoon of a seed mixture I keep in the fridge and then add to my breakfast. I use 50% flax; 20% pumpkin seeds 20% hemp seeds (a great mix of essential fats, fibre and nutrients) and 10% sesame (high in calcium but also high in omega 6, so keep them limited). Freshly grinding ensures the unstable, healthy fats in the seeds do not oxidise and go rancid.
OK, I’m done for now. Try and incorporate at least some of my Top 10 every day to keep you tickedy boo!