What are the best healthy foods to eat?
During Bridget's Masterclass & book launch of her cookbook MORE from Bridget's Healthy Kitchen, many wonderful attendees wanted to know which foods are the best to consume when eating healthy. Bridget discusses this in her video, but we also break it down for you in this post.
Avocados are an amazingly versatile fruit (yes, they're a fruit) you can use in both sweet and savoury dishes. Thanks to their creamy texture, these delicious green bulbs can be used in baking and as a butter substitute in some recipes. Not only are they versatile, but they're also great for our bodies!
A common misconception of the avocado is that they're bad for us due to the high-fat content. Yes, an avocado does contain quite a bit of fat, but the type of fat in an avocado is mainly monounsaturated. This type of fat is known as healthy fat, which our body needs for energy and other functions(1). The avocado is also the only fruit that provides a substantial amount of healthy fat(2).
Avocados are also nutrient-rich, good for the heart, helps to keep sugar levels in the blood stable, among other fantastic health benefits.
If you're not a fan of avocados but want to get the benefits from them, try making 'Bridget's 90 Second Avocado Bread'. Not only is this bread made from avocados, but it's also gluten-free, sugar-free, has no dairy and no added fat. You can get the full recipe HERE. For more gluten-free bread recipes, check out Bridget's Bread and Pastries eBook.
TIP: The key is to check under the small stem located at the very top of the fruit to ensure you're taking home the perfect avocados every time. Remove the stem and have a look at the colour underneath. If it's green, the avocado should be nice and ripe, but if it's brown, put it down and try another one.
Blueberries, aka brain berries
Blueberries are among the most nutrient-dense berries in the world and are known to support brain health. One study(3) suggests that blueberries are an excellent after-gym snack as they may aid muscle recovery, though more research is needed.
They are an antioxidant that helps fight free radicules. Free radicules are unstable molecules in our body that can damage your cells and contribute to illness and diseases. They are also a versatile fruit, which can be eaten raw, on the go as a snack, used in baking and put through salads.
Other benefits of this superfood include:
- Anti-inflammatory properties
- Mood-lifter if you're feeling a little down
- Low in calories
- High in fibre, vitamin C and vitamin K
Here's a straightforward, delicious, & nutritious blueberry muffin recipe that will give your tastebuds the nostalgic experience without including sugar, dairy & gluten!
Broccoli, Broccolini (Tenderstem Broccoli) and Broccoli Sprouts
Broccoli has an antioxidant called sulforaphane, a naturally occurring, sulfur-rich compound linked to health benefits such as improved heart health and digestion. Raw broccoli has the highest levels of sulforaphane(4), up to ten times more sulforaphane than cooked broccoli. So it's best to avoid boiling or microwaving. Instead, eat them lightly steamed, or better yet, raw, to maximize their sulforaphane content.
Broccoli sprouts are young broccoli plants that look like alfalfa sprouts and contain 10-100 times more glucoraphanin(5) than full-grown broccoli. Glucoraphanin is converted into sulforaphane when broccoli sprouts are "injured," usually by chopping or chewing. Broccoli sprouts have the sharp taste of radish and work great in salads.
Other benefits of broccoli and its sprouts include:
- Are easy to grow
- High in fibre
- Low in calories
If you're not a fan of raw or steamed broccoli, try our delicious Broccoli & Mint Soup. It's easy to make and tastes divine. Click HERE for the full recipe.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil is the highest-quality olive oil you can buy. Compared to other olive oil varieties, it retains its authentic olive taste and has a lower level of oleic acid due to the process in which it is made. Extra virgin olive oil also contains more natural vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and bioactive compounds(6) found in the fruit itself. This variety of olive oil is considered an unrefined oil as it's not treated with nasties or altered by temperature.
Extra virgin olive oil is better for you without added heat as it burns at very low temperatures. It's always better to save the expensive, good quality oil for tossing through salads, drizzling over cooked vegetables, using in dips, or dipping gluten-free bread.
Other benefits include:
- Monounsaturated fat
- Anti-inflammatory - Similar effect to you taking ibuprofen
- Stimulates our bodies to go into repair mode
- Maintaining our brains longevity- cognitive function
Eggs are wonderfully fantastic for us and can be easily added to your diet. They have naturally occurring omega-3 fatty acids, which is an essential fat our bodies need but can't produce. Omega-3 fatty acids also play an essential role in preventing and managing certain health issues such as heart disease.
Although many 'healthy' recipes call for the use of the white's only, the yolk is the part that contains most of an egg's iron and vitamins. And yes, egg yolks are also a source of dietary cholesterol. However, Dr Luc Djoussé(7), an associate professor and heart disease researcher at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital, says, "Dietary cholesterol does not translate into high levels of blood cholesterol."
Other benefits include:
- Low in carbs
- High in vitamins
- Incredibly nutritious
- Good source of inexpensive protein
Tip: Remember, not all eggs are created equal. The nutrients within the egg depend on how the hens are raised and what they are fed(8). Pasture-raised hens produce eggs with much higher levels of omega-3's compared to ones that are not.
Try and buy the best eggs your budget will allow. Whether they're pasture-raised, organic or free-range, these types of eggs are better for our bodies and our chickens!
Want to get more eggs into your diet but are sick of the standard way of cooking them? Try Bridget's Egg Souffle recipe. It's quick and easy to make and adds fun back into eggy breakfasts. Click HERE for the full recipe.
Salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids and is one of the most popular fish to consume, thanks to its rich, buttery flavour. A portion of salmon is about 200 calories(9), very low in saturated fat and is a fantastic source of protein. Wild salmon is better to eat, and it's best to stay away from the canned kind- remember, fresh is always best.
Other benefits include:
- One of the best sources of vitamin B12
- Bursting in potassium, iron and vitamin D
Try Bridget's Sticky Salmon on Broccoli Rice by following the recipe HERE if you want to add more salmon to your diet.
All nuts are packed with nutrients, but almonds stand out as a super-nut. They contain lots of healthy fats(10) and are perfect for an on-the-go snack or used through salads as they can be eaten raw. Whole almonds (with the skin on) have a prebiotic quality, which increases the good bacteria and helps decrease the harmful bacteria in your gut. The powerful antioxidants in almonds are concentrated mainly in the skin.
If you like roasted almonds, it's best to buy them raw and dry roast them yourself. By dry roasting at home, you'll avoid all the added nasties usually found in the store-bought kind. To dry roast:
Place the almonds on a baking tray in one layer
Pop them in the oven at 150degrees Celsius
Bake for about 20 to 30mins.
Note: Keep an eye on them and move them around every so often.
Some people claim that raw almonds contain phytochemicals that prevent you from getting the nutrients in almonds. Although, further research is needed. If you want to activate your raw whole almonds, you can soak them in filtered water overnight and then dry them flat on a tray for a couple of days.
Other Benefits of almonds include:
- High in vitamin E protein and fibre - so helps to keep you fuller for longer
- Low in carbs
- Contain magnesium
- Are at the lower end on the price scale compared to other nuts
Try Bridget's Almond & Orange Kara cake for a delicious almond treat. Get the full recipe HERE.
Dark leafy greens (spinach, rocket (Arugula), kale, watercress, Asian greens)
When I was younger, my parents would always say, "Eat your greens or you won't grow up big and strong", and as much as I hated it back then, they weren't lying. Greens, more specifically dark leafy greens, are high in iron, minerals and even calcium. They're also a great source of fibre and are incredibly nutrient-dense. And thanks to their potassium levels, our leafy friends can help fight belly bloating as potassium helps keep an optimal fluid balance in our bodies(11). One cup of cooked spinach contains 840 mg of potassium.
Other benefits include:
- Supports brain function
- It can help protect your skin from harmful UV rays
- Helps relieve stress
- Can help balance sugars
If you would like to add more greens to your diet, try our delicious Kale Chips recipe.
Turmeric has powerful anti-inflammatory effects, which can help with joint mobility and is a powerful antioxidant. The active compound that delivers such potent beneficial results to our bodies is curcuminoids, with the most essential being curcumin. This compound helps to make turmeric the most effective nutritional supplement in existence.
If you want to experience the full effects of turmeric, you should add it to your food or take a daily supplement that contains significant amounts of curcumin. Fresh turmeric (turmeric root) is best for cooking. You can grate it into a curry, gravy or stir fry, and you'll find it next to onions in your supermarket or Asian grocer. Turmeric powder can be used as a thickener for sauces and gravies.
1) Be careful as turmeric does stain!
2) Our bodies can't efficiently absorb curcumin into the bloodstream(12) and needs piperine to help enhance the absorption capabilities. Piperine is a natural substance found in black pepper.
Try drinking turmeric tea to help add more curcumin into your diet. You can find a video recipe here.
And no, we're not talking about the blocks of Old Gold you find down the confectionary aisle at the supermarket. No, we're talking about the kind that's free from sugar and gluten and is usually found down the health-food section.
Dark chocolate has antioxidant properties and can be great for brain and heart health. Like blueberries, Dark chocolate possesses compounds that can pass through the blood-brain barrier to help fight free radicals. It's even recommended to eat a little bit before a workout, as it can help improve athletic performance, though more research into this is needed. But remember, no bingeing! A little goes a long way as you can still overdo it.
As it can be pretty costly to buy sugar-free, gluten-free dark chocolate, we've created a recipe so you can make them at home! Check it out here.
Honourable mention: Red wine
Not all alcohol is made equal. I recommend staying away from high-carb beers and sweet liqueurs but suggest adding red wine to your diet thanks to its many health benefits. However, it’s crucial to know the difference between moderate and excessive alcohol consumption. Too much wine can lead to extremely adverse health effects. So, a rule of thumb when incorporating red wine into your diet is 1 to 1.5 glasses per day for women and 1 to 2 glasses per day for men. (A standard glass of wine is about 150ml or 5oz)
A good quality Pinot Noir is considered the healthiest to drink as pinot grapes have the thinnest skin meaning lower tannins but higher levels of resveratrol. Other healthier red wines include Sagrantino, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Barbera and Malbec.
Health benefits of red wine:
- Rich in antioxidants - The darker the grape, the higher antioxidants like resveratro, which is linked to lowering blood pressure and protecting brain function.
- Lowers bad cholesterol
- Keeps heart healthy
- May aid in weight loss
- Has positive effects on the digestive system
Red wine, although beneficial, is an acquired taste. This is especially so to those who love to drink sweet white wines. If this is you and you’re not yet ready to dive into a bottle of Merlot, then you may want to try making Bridget’s Mulled Wine. You can follow her easy step-by-step instructions in this video.
Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to provide medical advice. All information, content, and material in this blog post are to inform the reader only. Our content is not intended to serve as a replacement for a qualified doctor or healthcare provider's consultation, diagnosis, and medical treatment.