40 Foods That’ll Help You Upgrade Your Diet


Women's Health |

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Your local supermarket is the key to where your lean body lies, because the food you eat has the greatest impact on your body weight and overall health. You just need to learn how to use your grocery store to your advantage.

1. SWEET POTATOES are full of soluble fibre to keep you fuller for longer, and provide excellent fuel for exercise. They’re also a good source of vitamins A and C.

2. GOLDEN DELICIOUS APPLES are high in soluble fibre, flavonoids and phytochemicals. They also lower cholesterol, control blood glucose levels and regulate the digestive system.

3. FRESH HERBS give a boost to any salad. They’re a great flavour enhancer – and you won’t need to use much salt.

4. GRAPEFRUIT This citrus fruit won weight-loss fame after a study found that people who ate half a grapefruit with each meal lost 1.6kg, while those who drank a serving of grapefruit juice three times a day lost 1.5kg.

5. ORANGES are portable and a rich source of vitamin C, which helps repair muscle tissue. One orange has all the C a woman needs each day – close to 75mg. Vitamin C is also key for making collagen, a tissue that helps keep bones strong.

6. PEARS Apples may get the doctor’s vote, but a pear a day is a good idea too. Pears have especially high levels of a kind of fibre called pectin, which helps promote weight loss.

7. TOMATOES Fibre and a high volume of water ensure that tomatoes fill you up without the kilojoules. They’re also loaded with lycopene, and researchers have found that the higher the level of this antioxidant in people’s blood, the lower their level of heart disease and other chronic illnesses.

8. BROCCOLI is the only veggie that contains indole-3-carbinol, which makes it the number-one cancer-fighting food.

9. AVOCADOS Besides being an excellent source of healthy fat, these creamy green fruits can stress-proof your body. They’re rich in glutathione, a substance that blocks intestinal absorption of certain fats that cause oxidative damage (the process that creates free radicals, the harmful compounds responsible for ageing). Did you know you can also eat the avocado seed?

10. ARTICHOKES When you get bored with leafy greens, artichokes are the way to go. They make an ideal appetiser at just 250kJ each, and munching on all that fibre will help you consume fewer kilojoules during the rest of your meal.

11. MIXED SPROUTS A great source of fibre, sprouts add delicious yet gentle crunch to salads

12. SHARON FRUIT A type of persimmon, these contain twice the dietary fibre of an apple and high levels of many minerals and antioxidants. They’re a good source of vitamin C – plus, they’re fat-free.

13. CHIVES Although chives are considered a herb, they’re an allium vegetable (in the same group as onion, garlic, shallots and leeks). Chives are a source of quercetin, an antioxidant that has anti-inflammatory properties.

14. STRAWBERRIES, packed with antioxidants, are a good option when you need a snack. They’re full of flavour and low in kilojoules.

15. BERRIES Researchers recently placed fresh berries on their list of the 20 foods richest in antioxidants.

16. BEETROOT This veg is high in folate and a source of fibre and potassium. It also contains powerful antioxidants. But, don’t eat too much as it can be toxic in large quantities.

17. BABY CARROTS Close your eyes and they almost taste like crunchy sweets. Carrots pack complex carbs that provide energy to muscles, and potassium to control blood pressure and muscle contractions.

18. BANANAS Thanks to bananas’ high potassium content, peeling one is a speedy solution to that stitch in your side AKA it’s the ideal running snack. While a lack of sodium is the main culprit behind muscle cramps, studies show that potassium plays a supporting role: you need it to replace sweat loss and help with fluid absorption.

19. ASPARAGUS It’s true that side effects may include off-colour or funky-smelling urine, but it’s a small price to pay for all the folate they deliver. The B vitamin is essential in helping you keep your cool when stress rears its ugly head.

20. ORGANIC CHICKEN FILLETS are low in fat, high in protein and can be used in a multitude of ways to make quick, healthy meals.

21. SNOEK is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which serve anti-coagulant and anti-inflammatory functions. It also improves cholesterol and lowers blood pressure.

23. ORGANIC CHICKEN THIGHS Skimp on iron and zinc and your energy will flag. Cooking up some chicken thighs or turkey drumsticks is the best way to get more of both. Dark-meat poultry is significantly lower in fat than red meat, yet has all the iron, zinc and B vitamins that women need in their diets.

24. ORGANIC FILLET STEAK is a good source of iron, is low in fat, and is an excellent source of protein.

25. LEAN MINCE is low in fat, high in iron and a great source of protein. Iron in meat is absorbed more easily by the body.

26. VENISON MINCE is a source of good-quality protein and is lower in overall fat (and saturated fat) than most other meats. It’s also a good source of iron and contains vitamin B12 and zinc. Most venison is free of growth stimulants and routine antibiotics.

27. SALMON Great for heart health, but here’s an added twist: new studies are suggesting that monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids might help lessen abdominal fat.

28. MACKEREL has high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, anti-inflammatory properties, and it aids memory and concentration.

29. LIVE ORGANIC YOGHURT gives smoothies an extra kick. Plus, dairy protects against heart disease and colon cancer.

30. EGGS Don’t skip the yolk. One egg a day supplies about 215mg of cholesterol – not enough to push you over the 300mg daily cholesterol limit recommended by the World Health Organisation. Plus, the yolk is a good source of iron, and it’s loaded with lecithin, which is critical for brain health.

31. RAW OATS give you more health-boosting fibre and unrefined carbohydrates than the flavoured kind, and contain no extra sodium or sugar.

32. CUMIN SEEDS aid digestion and are believed to have free-radical scavenging properties. They’re also used in traditional medicine as a healing aid.

33. SPLIT RED PEAS have a low GI and are high in soluble fibre, vital for stabilising blood glucose levels and lowering cholesterol.

34. ORGANIC PEANUT BUTTER Made from 100 percent roasted peanuts – nothing extra added – it’s a great way to supplement your diet with energy and protein.

35. OLIVES have so much flavour; just a handful makes them a satisfying snack. Plus, they’re jam-packed with the healthy oils your body loves.

36. CHILLIES Spicy chillies increase your burn thanks to an antioxidant called capsaicin. They also happen to be great for your libido.

37. CANNED CHICKPEAS taste delicious, and they’re a great source of protein and soluble fibre. Make sure you rinse them when out the can to reduce sodium content.

38. FLAXSEED is full of fibres called lignans that promote gut health. Since flax lignans contain both soluble and insoluble fibre, they keep you regular.

39. AVOCADO OIL has a higher smoking point than olive oil, which makes it better to cook with. It contains monounsaturated fats and vitamin E.

40. NUTS (pistachios, cashews, almonds and walnuts) are high in monounsaturated fat, fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

Looking for more on healthy foods? Here are 26 easy get-slim food commandments to follow. Or turbo-charge your weight-loss journey and get our Lean Body Blitz 12-week meal and fitness plan.

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