3 Surprisingly Simple Foods To Boost Your Diet
Discover the multitude of health benefits from these three quick and easy food options.
In the current health awareness age, it’s easy to see how one can be misguided by advice telling us to fill our cupboards with various fancy foods or to go hunt for some rare, expensive, one-of-a-kind product. Take this, on top of the idea of preparing complex, time-consuming dishes, and the healthy-eating lifestyle does not seem a very persuasive choice.
The good news: it doesn’t have to be so hard. There are a surprising amount of simple, quick foods found on the shelves of any supermarket that offer innumerable benefits for your health without eating up too much of your wallet.
Oats are the golden wholegrain. Enjoyed commonly for breakfast as porridge or oatmeal, not only are oats a great source of fibre with about 4–5g per large bowl, they are particularly high in soluble fibre, which helps aid slow, healthy digestion — perfect for avoiding that mid-morning snacking.
They also have a relatively low Glycemic Index (GI). Foods with a higher GI (such as the popular breakfast options of white bread or cornflakes) are responsible for creating a rapid spike in blood sugar levels.
But despite being high in carbohydrates, plain rolled oats do not own this devilish trait. This is particularly helpful for people with diabetes.
Further to this are the links between dietary fibre intake and reduced cholesterol. A bowl of morning porridge will create a steady, smooth rise and fall in your blood sugar levels, aiding your morning with a sense of ease and momentum.
It’s surprising how a simple-looking food like oats are packed with so many minerals and antioxidants. Just one cup of oats provides 69% (276mg) of daily magnesium intake, 40% (6.2mg) of zinc intake and 41% (7.4mg) of iron intake.
Perhaps the winning contender though when it comes down to rich nutrients in oats is beta-glucan. This powerful fibre has been shown to specifically reduce LDL cholesterol.
There are actually two types of cholesterol our bodies deal with — one is good (HDL cholesterol), the other bad (LDL cholesterol.) Having high levels of HDL cholesterol protects your arteries, thereby reducing the risk of heart and vascular diseases. This is not to be confused with LDL cholesterol, responsible for a potentially dangerous build-up of plaque in the arteries, increasing the risk of blood clot formation.
Oats belong to the range of foods that help to minimise this bad cholesterol in the body, offering a strong defensive armour for your body’s working functionalities.
Now for another great breakfast option. It’s not hard to understand why one may be sceptical about Greek yoghurt: the average supermarket pot raises a red flag for saturated fat content. But not all fats are created equal. An increasing amount of new research is outlining that sufficient dairy intake may prevent cardiovascular disease, rather than promote it.
The low-fat trap:
When given a choice, many people opt for low-fat versions of dairy products. However, this fear of fat is likely a reason why healthy fats (found in avocados, nuts and cheese) are one of the highest missing nutrients from an average American’s diet. Furthermore, studies have shown that consumption of full-fat dairy products helps to keep LDL cholesterol levels down, and may even increase HDL cholesterol.
This is not to mention that in many cases, ‘reduced fat’ means ‘added sugar’, a trick often used by food industry companies in the 1980s, but can still be seen today. So, rather than buying a ‘honey flavoured’ Greek yoghurt, it would be a better idea to buy plain yoghurt and add your own honey to it.
The plentiful protein found in Greek yoghurt has something special to offer — its high volume of casein protein provides a spectrum of beneficial amino acids responsible for healthy bone and muscle development. For those seeking to gain muscle, Greek yoghurt may be a top choice for post-workout supplements, with studies highlighting its effectiveness on strength and muscle mass.
Whole Wheat Pasta
I’m sure many of you, like me, love a good Italian meal. But with a history of research outlining the negative effects of refined grains such as white pasta, it is reassuring to know there is a healthier option.
Whole Grains for a Whole Heart
We’ve already seen some of the benefits of whole grains in the oats section. Whole grains have a nutrient-rich outer layer containing all sorts of minerals, from iron to copper to antioxidants. As ‘natural’ as white rice or pasta may look, these grains have in fact been highly processed to have this special outer layer removed.
But whole grains allow us to enjoy foods in their most natural, nutrient-dense form.
Something particularly special about whole grains is the plant cell walls contained within them. The calories from these fibrous cell walls produce short-chain fatty acids which help send signals to our brain indicating that we are full, and to reduce appetite.
This is particularly helpful for those times when we’re tempted to eat dessert in spite of how full our bellies are feeling after a meal.
There does, however, arise an issue. As Dr Michael Gregor explores in his book: How Not to Diet, whole grains in floured products such as wholemeal bread have their cellular walls split open during the flouring process, allowing their calories to freely roam. And thus, we lose this special benefit.
The good news is that pasta, despite being a floured product, is an exception to this process. And so, we can enjoy whole wheat pasta knowing we’re eating healthy whole grains in their purest essence.
So, there are three surprisingly simple foods that anyone can buy, store and prepare. It‘s amazing how simple it can be to live a healthy, nutrient-rich life...