New food research can throw up some surprises and send otherwise ‘beige’ foods to the top of the healthy charts – while the idea of superfoods is a myth, you can have a super-diet – these everyday nutrition heroes can help to build yours without buying out Whole Foods…
1. Black Tea
While green tea is busy mounting an offensive to win the ‘Healthiest Brew War’, black tea has made a flanking manoeuvre and turned up as a secret fat-burner. A European Journal of Nutrition study found that black tea is a probiotic that feeds the pseudobutyrivibrio bacteria in your gut, which scientists say can alter your metabolism to burn off body fat. It has this effect partly due to the molecules in black tea being larger than in green tea, which causes them to spend more time in your gut rather than passing through the walls. Science also suggests that the pigments in black tea could mimic insulin and help to regulate blood sugar levels. So, no need to surrender to the Green Tea Machine if you prefer a darker brew…
2. Porridge Oats
The definition of unglamorous carbs, porridge oats deserve to feature in your life more often than in an occasional flapjack. It should be obvious that as a wholegrain, porridge is a good source of fibre, but did you know that 13% of the calories in oats come from protein? They may look like they are made mostly of sawdust, but oats are actually packed with antioxidants and minerals vital for bone health, and metabolising carbs and proteins, including manganese. The beta-glucan soluble fibre in cooked oats can lower both blood cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Half a cup (78g) of oats also contains 20% of your RDA of iron and zinc, 39% of cardio-boosting Vitamin B1 and 34% RDA of magnesium.
3. Eggs – If You Eat The Yolk Too
The humble egg has made a comeback after years of people thinking they raise your blood cholesterol levels (they don’t). Now it seems they can actually reduce blood pressure, and the fat build-up in your liver, caused by sugary foods. In 2017 the Kangwon National University discovered that eating seven eggs a week appeared to improve the ratio of ‘good’ to ‘bad’ cholesterol, reducing high blood pressure and the odds of metabolic syndrome, which includes abdominal obesity. But you need to eat the egg yolks for this effect because they contain 80% of the vitamins and minerals.
4. Baked Beans (Sugar & Salt Reduced)
When you just can’t be bothered to cook from scratch there’s a healthier alternative to pizza – baked beans and toast actually combine for a full-protein meal. The beans are high-fibre and low-fat, lowering LDL blood cholesterol. They also contain high levels of potassium (used in muscle contractions) as well as iron, magnesium and folate. The tomato sauce has antioxidants too. Just pick up the reduced salt and sugar versions because the normal kind can blow most of your daily sugar allowance in one hit…
5. Any Colour Lentils
What would you say if we told you there was a plant that had more protein by weight than beef steak, was a prebiotic that feeds healthy gut bacteria, was able to regulate insulin levels, assist with cardiovascular health and was packed with magnesium as well as antioxidants, potassium and B vitamins? There’s probably even a tub of them in your kitchen somewhere from that time you decided to make all of your own soups. Yup, lentils smash it.
6. Cinnamon Powder
Delve into the back of any kitchen cupboard and there’s usually a dusty jar of cinnamon sitting there, bought to make some kind of cake, aeons ago. But this spice does more than gee up cups of coffee – it’s also an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. A University of Hong Kong study ranked it number one out of 26 herbs and spices for antioxidant clout, while research by Ohio Northern University Raabe College of Pharmacy found that taking one gram of cinnamon powder per day lowered blood sugar levels as much as prescription drugs. Scientists believe that it may have an important role in fat burning too. So, rather than adding sugar to stews, soups and drinks, keep some cinnamon handy for a sweet health hit.
WHAT NEXT? Watch this guide to brewing black tea the traditional, Japanese way – unlike green tea, which is bruised by very hot water, black tea requires boiling water…
Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care or recommendations. Please check with your Doctor before embarking on exercise or nutrition regimes for the first time.
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