THERE is a plethora of tasty, fresh foods available all year round and they’re stuffed with nutrients to boot. Here are some of my favourites that you should consider making part of your diet.
Along with calcium, proteins and vitamin E, whose antioxidant powers are well known, almonds are full of good fats called omega‑3s and these keep cholesterol at bay, fight hypertension and do battle with osteoarthritis. All that while beefing up your immune system too. They are also packed with fibre which makes you feel full and aids digestion.
In India they call it “lassi”. In North Africa it is “leben”. In the Caucasus, “kefir”. Behind these exotic sounding names you will find fermented milk.
The taste is more acidic and the texture creamier than ordinary milk. The difference is that lactic acid culture has been added, while preserving milk’s nutritional qualities. You’ll find it has just as many proteins and carbohydrates and just as much calcium. But the special thing about fermented milk is that it is swarming with living lactic bacteria which help to restore the balance of intestinal flora, which can be permanently destabilised by stress or by taking medication.
Another benefit is that they are useful in cases of diarrhoea for both children and adults and they will survive a course of antibiotics.
Not content with being nourishing, pomegranate is curative too. For starters, the pomegranate is able to help clear your coronary arteries of fatty deposits. It helps protect you from athero-sclerosis, the excess of bad cholesterol that, along with stress, can lead to hypertension. Pomegranate helps promote elasticity in your arteries and this improves blood flow.
Ultimately, it reduces your risk of having a heart attack. But that’s not all. Stuffed full of vitamins (notably C), the pomegranate boasts a lengthy list of attributes including the ability to fight cataract growth, strengthen bone and muscles, eliminate intestinal parasites and even reduce dental plaque.
Its sourness stimulates the taste buds and aids digestion. Along with other citrus fruits, lemon is thought to prevent certain cancers (oesophagus, stomach, colon, mouth and larynx), reduce the risk of heart disease and possess anti-inflammatory properties.
You can have it first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach or watered down. It does give you quite a kick but it’s a great way to get the liver secreting bile so it’s prepared for quality digestion through the day.
Lemon is a natural hunger suppressant that stabilises blood sugar levels. Try drinking lemon juice before meals to see if it calms things down.
The ultimate winter fruit, it’s good for morale and a good antidote to bouts of fatigue. It has many attributes including vitamin C (two clementines have 40mg, which is half the recommended UK daily dose) and all you need to feel invigorated, fight fatigue and protect yourself from germs.
Black, red, mauve or yellow, raw plums have high antioxidant qualities (so it’s excellent for doing battle with potentially cancerous cells).
And it contains a profusion of vitamins (A, K and particularly C), all of which have their uses.
Vitamin A is integral to vision (notably night vision), contributes to healthy skin and mucous membranes and also regulates your immune system, which will be all the more stimulated for the top‑up of vitamin C you’ve given it.
And vitamin K helps fight osteoporosis and facilitates blood clotting.
A surefire winner when the sun is beating down, it is also bursting with vitamin C. It contains antioxidant compounds that all research suggests are good for you, notably for preventing certain types of cancer.
One last thing, grapefruit is highly recommended for people who are overweight. However it is incompatible with some medication. If you are undergoing treatment, mention that you eat grapefruit to your doctor or pharmacist.
Clever old watermelon is thought to reduce our risk of cancer, fight cholesterol and help prevent inflammation. Even those little black pips deserve to be swallowed – they contain vitamin C.
From the moment you plunge a knife into a watermelon you have four days to finish it. Otherwise the lycopene content drops. And it would be a shame to miss out on all those antioxidants. It has been proven that watermelon’s goodness is more easily absorbed when you eat it with lipids. Serve watermelon with a few nuts and a piece of cheese.
These aren’t great lookers but they taste good and you cannot imagine the number of properties crammed into a raisin. For starters, they have formidable antioxidant powers, which will slow down your cells’ ageing process. They are jam-packed with resveratrol, a compound that is thought to protect your heart, assuming you have a healthy lifestyle in the first place. Second, in a raisin you’ll find four times more trace elements than in grapes – calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, mineral salts, carbohydrates and a decent amount of vitamin B.
Some will object, saying they have a high sugar content but it’s widely accepted that sugar from fruit is not fattening – or only very slightly – and raisins provide welcome energy for mental and physical activity.
Care about your cardiovascular health? Keen to protect yourself from cancer? To maximise our chances, we should eat cruciferous vegetables as regularly as possible. And what are they? Turnips, kohlrabi, cauliflowers, broccoli and radishes. Let’s dwell on this last one.
The red or white radish is crunchy and refreshing and has a subtle, hot flavour. We shouldn’t neglect it, not when it has such brilliant antioxidant properties. What’s good about the radish is that the whole thing is edible, even the leaves. And you can eat it raw or cooked.