The key to getting maximum nutrients into your body lies in plating holistically and not focussing on particular nutrient-rich food — dubbed superfoods — to tackle health and wellness, said Mandy Read of Read and Biggs Dieticians at Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital in Durban.
She said nutrients our bodies need come from a variety of different foods, especially fruit and vegetables, and that one ‘superfood’ can never provide all the nutrients.
“So-called ‘superfoods’ are often promoted as having special qualities for curing or preventing diseases, but according to Cancer Research UK, they cannot substitute a varied and healthy balanced intake of food,” she said.
“It is more helpful to think of ‘super meals’ rather than ‘superfoods’, and look at what is in your lunchbox or on your breakfast and on your supper plates as a whole. The trending ‘superfoods’ are mostly fruit and vegetables, which tend to be super rich in vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants,” she said.
Here are some tips to help you plate up more holistically:
- Current recommendations are a daily combination of a variety of at least five fruit and/or vegetables. Take two or three of these with you to work every day, as fruit and vegetables, especially raw vegetables, are convenient snacks that are a good source of energy and are vitamin-rich.
- Among carbohydrates (starchy foods), those that contain more fibre, such as wholegrain breads, brown rice, sweet potatoes and madumbes, can help lower cholesterol levels and assist in preventing constipation.
- Protein foods such as sugar beans, nuts, chicken, eggs, fish and meat, help to promote growth and repair body cells, as well as assist with various chemical reactions in the body.
- Fish contains omega 3 fatty acids, which also offers an anti-inflammatory benefit. Although biltong is very concentrated in protein and nutrients, the quantity consumed by many South Africans may lead to high fat, salt and protein intake, which could result in weight gain.
- Dairy is a super source of calcium (and protein) in a form that is very well absorbed, whether it is milk, cheese, amasi or yoghurt.
- Samp and beans are a great combination of starchy foods and protein. A curry or stew could be a ‘super meal’, provided that other vegetables are included in addition to potato, and only a small amount of oil is used.
- Super tip: To get the most of out of these foods, use low fat methods of preparation – this gives all the advantages without adding too much extra energy, which can cause you to gain weight.