You are probably aware that a low calorie, nutritious diet can keep you healthier and slimmer. But did you know that you could knock off some years by increasing your intake of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains? Or simply by having a healthy breakfast every morning? All you need to do is to examine your lifestyle and daily diet. The healthiest diet is one full of fruits and vegetables, plenty of whole grains, fish, nuts, lean meat and a variety of other healthy foods. Here are a few tips that could help.
Increase your intake of fruits
Fruits are rich in vitamins, fibre, carotenoids and other nutrients. Apples and oranges are full of age-reducing flavonoids. Grapes are packed with antioxidants. Remember to wash the fruit thoroughly. However, keep the peel on, or you might lose most of the fibre. Keep in mind that processed juices do not have the same fibre content as whole fruits.
Veggies are good for you
Vegetables are powerful antioxidants – substances that help protect the body from free radical damage. The richest sources are onions, green tea, celery, tomatoes and garlic. You should take 5-6 servings of vegetables a day. With only 20 to 50 calories per serving, they help you feel full and keep your weight down. Nutritious veggies include tomatoes, onions, garlic, sweet potatoes, asparagus, mushrooms and chillies. Studies show that if you eat vegetables with a little oil, you actually aid in the absorption of their nutrients.
Eat at regular intervals during the day
Some people think that the key to losing weight is starving yourself all day until dinner time. This is completely untrue and does not work because when it is eventually time for dinner, you just end up gorging! If you deprive yourself of food for long periods, your body will switch to starvation mode and your metabolism will act as though you need to conserve energy. This may cause a gain in weight even if you are not increasing your calorie intake. Plus, you may feel more tempted to eat a fatty snack in between. Eat regularly to keep your metabolism working at its best.
Eat fish three times a week
Most types of fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been found to lower bad cholesterol levels and stabilize the heartbeat. They also help maintain healthy breast tissue, reduce the incidence of colon cancer and help with conditions of the immune system. The best types include salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines and most shellfish.
Use olive oil instead of butter or margarine on bread and in other recipes. Substitute fruits for biscuits, dark chocolate for milk chocolate, orange slices for juice and nuts for crisps.
Never skip breakfast
Research has shown that people who eat breakfast have a lower overall food intake than those who skip it. No one knows why eating breakfast can help you stay younger, but it may have something to do with the fact that people tend to get at least half of their daily vitamin intake at breakfast, or maybe because many of us eat fibre-rich cereals.
Use ‘good’ oils
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, found in olive oil, fish and nuts, can boost the level of healthy cholesterol in your blood. Olive oil has 75 % more monounsaturated fats than any other commonly used oil. Oil from nuts is high in polyunsaturated fats. Use any oil sparingly.
‘Good’ fat before a meal
A small amount of fat slows digestion, so your stomach stays fuller for longer. If you feel full, you will eat less. A little ‘healthy fat’ also helps keep your blood sugar level stable, while helping the body absorb fat. Monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats are the goodies – they are found in olive oil, nuts and fish. Have half a tablespoon of olive oil before a meal. Or eat a handful of nuts or 15g of dark (not milk) chocolate.
WaterYou need at least eight glasses of fluid a day to keep your body running at its optimal level. It flushes out waste, transports water to all body tissues, regulates body temperature and is necessary for every chemical reaction in the body. You can get water from eating too, especially from watermelon, oranges, grapes, apples, cucumber and tomatoes. Drinking water makes you feel full faster and provides extra energy.