10 Delicious Foods and Drinks With Surprising Health Benefits
Author: Jillian Foster Date Posted:6 March 2018
- Chocolate – the dark kind of course! The darker the chocolate the higher the antioxidants and health benefits. The reason for this is the polyphenol and flavonol content, both rich antioxidants. It’s this special stuff that contributes to chocolates health benefits of reducing oxidative stress, supporting healthy cardiovascular function, and boosting memory and brain function. To get the most out of your chocolate go for a minimum of 70% cocoa, raw is even better! Cacao powder can be used in cooking and smoothies to get your daily antioxidant intake without the added fat from chocolate.
- Wine – the good news is moderate consumption of wine, particularly red, has shown significant benefits to cardiovascular health in comparison to those who do not drink or drink in excess. Wine contains antioxidant compounds called anthocyanins and resveratrol which are the key behind wines ability in reducing inflammation in the body and supporting cardiovascular health. Remember, like all great things in life, the benefits come from drinking in moderation. Always drink responsibly.
- Yoghurt – Yoghurt holds many health benefits. What are most well-known now are the benefits of active cultures or probiotics that can be found in good quality yoghurt. These beneficial bacteria can assist with a healthy gastrointestinal tract, help boost the immune system and even support a healthy mood. In addition to this, yoghurt contains a good dose of calcium to assist the bones and is packed with protein to help build muscle and keep you feeling full for longer. For maximum health benefits it is best to avoid yoghurts with added sugar. We love plain greek yoghurt (it contains more protein than standard yoghurt), just add some fresh fruit, seeds, nuts and honey – yum!
- Tart Cherries – Abundant in nutrients vitamin A and vitamin C, plus antioxidant polyphenols and anthocyanins. Tart cherries have been associated with improved overall health, reduced inflammation, reduction in symptoms of exercise-induced muscle damage and gout as well as improved sleep. Tart cherry juice has shown to increase melatonin levels leading to increased sleep duration and sleep quality. Who doesn’t feel better from a good nights sleep?
- Ginger – Ginger has a long history of both culinary and medicinal use. Some of its most used and well-known health benefits are in aiding digestion and calming nausea. However, ginger also has many other health benefits including helping in reducing pain and inflammation, particularly period pain (dysmenorrhoea). It can aid in the recovery of a cold and flu due to its action as a diaphoretic (promotes sweating) and it has some actions in the cardiovascular system, supporting healthy heart and vascular function. Ginger’s array of health benefits is owing to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. There’s no better reason to spice up your stir-fry with some fresh ginger or try some delicious homemade ginger biscuits.
- Beer - Surprisingly, beer has some nutritional advantages over other alcoholic beverages, some types of beers more so than others. It contains more protein and B vitamins than wine and its antioxidant content is on par. However, the antioxidants found in beer do differ from those found in wine as barley and hops are used in the production of beer, rather than grapes used for wine. Once again, moderation is the key. Always drink responsibly.
- Honey – A highly nutritious food, honey contains traces of a multitude of vitamins and minerals. Antioxidants feature again as one of the components that contribute to honey’s health benefits. Manuka honey in particular has been shown to boost immunity and can help soothe a sore throat and act as a cough suppressant. It can also be used topically on minor wounds. Raw honey is the best option as honey that has been processed at high temperatures will lose some of its nutrient content. For an immune boosting, throat soothing drink – combine honey, lemon and fresh ginger and steep in a cup of hot water for 5 minutes, then enjoy!
- Coffee – Feeling guilty about that daily caffeine habit? The results are in and coffee has been linked to a longer lifespan. Coffee has also been shown to improve cognitive function, aiding in concentration and memory. It is worth noting that some people are more sensitive to caffeine and should adjust their intake accordingly. Try to have organic coffee whenever possible.
- Potato – Potatoes get a bad rap. However, potatoes actually have some amazing health benefits that are often overlooked. Let’s start with the nutritional content – they are high in vitamin B6, vitamin C, iron, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, and zinc. These nutrients can assist with mood, bone health, nervous system support and immune system function. Whilst the high starchy carbohydrate content of potatoes has caused concern about weight gain, cooled potatoes can actually be beneficial in weight loss. Resistant starch forms once cooked potato has been cooled. Moderate intake of resistant starch has shown benefits in stabilising blood sugar levels, improving cholesterol levels and reducing appetite and increasing satiation. Most of all though, resistant starch has positive effects on gut health as it acts as a prebiotic feeding the beneficial bacteria. Next time you’re at a BBQ, load up your plate with potato salad.
- Nuts – A plant food packed full of nutrients, nuts have many health benefits. Whilst the nutritional content will differ depending on the nut, all nuts contain large quantities of healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, good levels of protein, lots of dietary fibre and many essential nutrients including vitamin B, vitamin E, calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron and other phytochemicals including antioxidants. How many nuts should I consume per day? 30g is a good daily intake, this equates to approximately one small handful or 15-20 nuts depending on the size of the nut.
|Written by Jillian Foster|
Jillian (BHSc Naturopathy) is a qualified naturopath who believes through a healthy and balanced diet and lifestyle, we have the power to influence our health and the health of future generations. With a passion for herbal medicine, Jillian loves helping people find the right solution for their health needs and educating people on how they can lead a healthy and happy life.
Jillian enjoys keeping active with her two young children and baking them delicious and healthy treats.
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