6 superfoods to get you through the winter
In the winter months it can be tempting to curl up with hot chocolate and pizza and forget about the world outside. However, the cold weather is no excuse to abandon healthy eating habits. Why not get back into the swing of things with some inspiration from superfoods?
Although the term superfood is used quite freely, it essentially means foods that are nutrient-dense and deliver more health benefits per mouthful than other foods. Make sure that you're getting the vitamins and minerals you need to keep you healthy and fight off colds and flu with six of the top winter superfoods.
Kale is known as superfood number 1 for its mega-dose of vitamin K and antioxidants such as vitamin C and beta-carotene. The free radical neutralising effects of this leafy vegetable also prevent the loss of skin elasticity, so kale will keep you looking younger too. Of course, while kale is king, any leafy vegetable is a healthy addition to your diet.
Use it in: stir-fries, salads or soups, or simply sautÃ© a packetful with garlic, soy sauce and sesame oil and enjoy it as a meal on its own.
Garlic is packed with allicin, one of the most potent antioxidants found in foods. It also contains vitamin C, zinc and selenium. Together, all these vitamins and minerals make garlic a powerful antifungal, antibacterial and antibiotic agent that reduces your risk of cancer, heart disease, asthma and some skin conditions.
Use it in: Garlic is a delicious addition to just about any savoury meal, adding flavour to soups, stews, pasta sauces and pestos. Next time you make a Sunday roast, throw a whole head of garlic into the tray, and then squeeze out the mellow garlic paste from each clove when the roast is done. Don't forget the parsley!
3. Sweet potato
Sweet potatoes contain high levels of vitamin A and are unsurpassed as sources of beta-carotene. They are also a low-GI food, meaning that although they offer that lovely sweet flavour, they aren't making your blood sugar levels spike.
Use them in: Although nothing beats a slow-roasted, caramelised sweet potato, the best way to preserve their nutritional benefits is to steam them. You can then eat them as they are, with a glug of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt, or you can turn them into a delicious mash as a side dish.
Beetroots are full of amino acids, vitamins and minerals, as well as betacyanin, which gives them their deep red colour and helps fight colon cancer. They help keep your blood pressure low and combat anaemia.
Use them in: Beetroots are beautiful roasted or boiled and then sliced into a salad along with feta and pumpkin seeds, but for the purest punch, juice them with carrots and apples to make a bright red power smoothie to start your day.
Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help decrease the risk of heart disease and promote brain health. This oily fish is also a great source of protein, vitamin A and vitamin B. Of course, wild organic salmon is the best way to enjoy salmon, but tinned, smoked or farmed still offer these health benefits.
Use it in: Marinade salmon in a mixture of honey and soy sauce, and then enjoy with basmati and wild rice and a side of leafy greens.
Chuck out your other beverages and start drinking pomegranate juice it has been found to have two to three times the antioxidant power of green tea or red wine. Pomegranates improve cardiovascular health, provide anti-inflammatory phytochemicals and lower blood pressure.
Use them in: Add pomegranates to salads or fruit salads, or enjoy them on their own as addictive little snacks. You can also buy pomegranate juice to get the benefits without having to fiddle with the little juicy gems.
Eat a variety of healthy foods
The appeal of so-called superfoods is that they provide a greater portion of nutrients per serving than regular foods. However, simply adding a superfood a day to your diet doesn't make up for other bad eating habits. The best advice for healthy eating is to eat a variety of fruit and vegetables, make sure you get your protein from organic or non-animal sources and avoid deep fried and overly processed foods as well as too much sugar, caffeine or alcohol.