Every week millions of people take vitamin and mineral supplements to try to improve their health. But these special supplements do no good. Worse still, they may do harm—particularly if taken in large quantities.
You will be able to do yourself much more good if you eat a sensible, well balanced diet.
But to add extra zest to your diet here are twenty-one magic ‘superfoods’ which can do your body a real power of good!
Potatoes are almost certainly the most undervalued food in the world. And the most mistreated. Potatoes are rich in vitamins and are an excellent foodstuff. To get the most out of them you should try to eat your potatoes in their jackets.
If you eat potatoes as chips keep the fat down by cutting them thickly, making sure that the oil you use (preferably vegetable oil high in polyunsaturates and low in saturates) is sizzling hot before you add the chips and drying the chips on a piece of kitchen towel before you serve them.
When cooked properly and wisely potatoes make an excellent food. When cooked unwisely the goodness in potatoes can be destroyed and the amount of fat they contain can be dramatically increased.
Natural yoghurt (not the sweetened, fruit and calorie filled variety) is really good for you! It is high in protein and calcium and a good source of iron and some of the vitamins in the B group. Yoghurt contains lactobacilli which compete with and oust numerous infections—including thrush.
Everyone should try to eat natural yoghurt regularly. Women who are suffering from thrush can often ease their symptoms by dipping a tampon in natural yoghurt before inserting it. Sufferers from the irritable bowel syndrome sometimes find that they benefit after eating non dairy yoghurt (soya yoghurt is now increasingly available). Watch out because some yoghurts contain many additives which you might not want to eat.
Whether you eat them in porridge or in specially made bread, buns or biscuits, you’ll benefit enormously by increasing your consumption of oats. Oat bran contains protein, carbohydrate and vitamin B—and more useful fibre than any other food. A regular addition of oat bran to your diet will help you lose weight and stay slim. Plus, oat bran will also help to reduce your blood cholesterol level and, therefore, reduce your chances of having a heart attack or a stroke.
Although nearly calorie free, celery is packed with goodness. It is an exceptional food—offering a nutritious and non fattening snack. You can eat it in salads or in soup. If you don’t like it raw, cook it: it tastes quite different!
There is a growing amount of evidence available now to show that if it is eaten regularly garlic will help to reduce
Your chances of having a heart attack. Garlic has been used for thousands of years as a flavouring and as a preventive medicine. It seems that it can reduce the level of fat and cholesterol in the blood and also help prevent blood clotting. These factors mean that garlic may well help to prevent heart disease. Certainly, the evidence is powerful enough not to be ignored. The value of garlic is enhanced by the fact that unlike many modern drugs it contains no significant side effects (unless you count the antisocial effect of the smell on your breath as a significant side effect).
Not for nothing is bread traditionally known as the ‘staff of life’. Wholemeal bread is particularly good for you. Rich in fibre and vitamins and minerals, wholemeal bread should play a large part in any healthy diet. A ‘honey on wholemeal bread’ sandwich makes an excellent quick snack.
Although it is sugar with one or two added vitamins and minerals, honey does seem to have some mysterious and almost ‘magical’ qualities. Honey is being prescribed more and more often by doctors.
Theoretically, honey shouldn’t be of any special value. But surgeons have found that if they spread honey onto infected wounds and burns then healing takes place much faster. It seems that honey helps to clean the tissues and conquer the infection.
Second, doctors have found that honey kills dangerous bugs like salmonella, cholera and escherichia coli quickly and efficiently.
Third, it has been shown that honey is better at killing many of the bugs that cause urinary infection than some powerful, modern drugs such as penicillin.
Fourth, research has shown that children suffering from
Gastro-enteritis seem to get better quicker if given honey to eat.
No one seems to know just why honey works so well. But there seems little doubt that honey is one of the great ‘magical mystery’ foods.
Cottage cheese contains all the goodness found in other cheeses (such as plenty of protein and lots of vitamins and minerals) but far less of the fat which makes so many cheeses a real health hazard. To make a quick, tasty and nutritious super-snack put a tablespoonful of cottage cheese into a baked potato.
Prepacked in a moisture and bug proof wrapping (so environmentally friendly and so biodegradable that you can quickly turn it into compost) that ensures the fruit inside arrives with you clean, fresh and uncontaminated, bananas are packed with vitamins and minerals and fibre and carbohydrate and very low in fat. Bananas, which are rich in potassium and contain a useful quantity of vitamin C, make ian excellent snacking food for picnics or people who are travelling.
The second of the three ‘superfruits’. Apples contain lots of fibre and plenty of vitamins. Easily obtainable and relatively inexpensive, apples make a great snack and an excellent ingredient for pies and crumbles. But try to buy apples which are not covered with a wax coating to preserve them. More natural apples may not have the ‘sheen’ of a waxed apple but they will be better for you.
Oranges, like bananas, come in their own environmentally friendly sealing wrapper (even if you throw it down it soon rots). Oranges contain slightly less fibre than bananas but they are packed with vitamins (especially vitamin C) and minerals. A genuinely made fresh fruit salad which consists of orange, banana and apple will make a cheap, tasty and healthy pudding. (Note: the grapefruit is also an excellent, well packaged, vitamin rich fruit).
Try to buy field picked mushrooms rather than specially grown mushrooms if you can—they taste better. Mushrooms are full of protein and contain a healthy supply of vitamins and minerals. They are low in fat and calories.
Soya beans are almost certainly the world’s most valuable crop. They are packed with protein. If farmers around the world grew soya beans instead of less protein rich crops there would be no need for anyone anywhere to be hungry.
The protein found in soya beans is better and more useful than the protein found in most other vegetables. Soya is used in the preparation of a vast array of different products which include milk and yoghurt substitutes as well as textured vegetable protein—also known as TVP, which is an excellent source of zinc, B vitamins, calcium, iron and protein.
Unsweetened soya milks, yoghurts and ice cream contain no cholesterol, plenty of protein and little sugar. If a coagulant is added to boiled soya beans it is possible to make tofu—or bean curd—which is a high protein food.
Mycoprotein is an alternative to TVP. It is made from the protein of a fungus called fusarium graminosum, is available
In cubes or minced, and can be cooked in a number of ways. It is a good source of protein.
Although it is rich in vitamins and minerals watercress is virtually calorie free. It makes an excellent addition to any salad and is much under-utilised by chefs and sandwich makers.
An enormously underestimated food which often ends up being used as a sprig of decoration on the side of the plate— and then not even eaten! Parsley contains essential protein and useful vitamins and minerals.
Although they are extremely low in calories peppers are among the most nutritious foods you can buy. Red peppers are particularly rich in vitamins.
Full of fibre, vitamins and minerals, carrots are excellent cooked or eaten raw. Most children enjoy chewing on a raw carrot—it’s an excellent and healthy alternative to a biscuit or bar of chocolate!
Popeye was right! Spinach is rich in vitamins, minerals, fibre and protein—and low in calories and fat. The usual mistake is to overcook spinach so that it becomes soggy and tasteless (as well as less valuable nutritionally). If spinach is bought fresh and cooked with love and care it will be both tastier and better for you.
Several studies have shown that vegetables such as broccoli can help to stop you getting cancer. Other vegetables which have the same apparently magical ‘superfood’ effect include cauliflower, cabbage and brussels sprouts. These vegetables are believed to help prevent cancer because they contain compounds called indole glycosinolates (known for short as igs). Cancers which may be prevented—or slowed—by these vegetables include cancer of the breast, cancer of the colon and stomach cancer.
However, cooking or even slight steaming seems to reduce the anti cancer quality of these vegetables which seem to be most powerful when eaten raw. Cutting the vegetables into fairly small pieces seems to increase their anti cancer power.
Because it grows in clusters rather than singly the avocado should officially be classified as a berry rather than a pear. The avocado tree yields more food per acre than any other tree crop and before humans started eating them they were popular with animals as varied as dinosaurs, giant sloths and jaguars.
The avocado contains a rich mixture of nutrients—14 minerals (including copper, iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium), 11 vitamins and a lot of protein. An additional point in their favour is that the avocado pear is low in sodium. This makes them good for individuals who are on a low salt diet.
The oil content of the avocado can be quite high. It is believed that the avocado also contains special anti bacterial and anti fungal ingredients.
Available in many different forms—as spaghetti, lasagne, tagliatelle, macaroni etc.—pasta is the athlete’s favourite
Food. Professional cyclists, athletes and other sportsmen and women eat pasta at most of their main meals—particularly on the night before a big event. Pasta contains a good quantity of complex carbohydrate and a lot of fibre but is low in fat. It is cheap, easy and quick to cook and very filling.