These humble health heroes are packed with goodness and deliver big health benefits that are backed by science.
Legumes such as beans, lentils, peas and chickpeas are not only delicious and versatile, they are high in fibre, low in saturated fat and contain iron, zinc, folate and magnesium. According to the Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council, eating more legumes has also been shown to help manage cholesterol and blood glucose levels, reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers and may help in weight management.
Contrary to popular belief, dried legumes are not hard to cook. However, canned beans, lentils and chickpeas are a great alternative. Legumes can also make a terrific, healthy snack. Keep a can of baked beans in your bag, or whip up some homemade hummus for an afternoon pick-me-up.
Wholegrains are nutrition powerhouses—they are packed full of different fibres, vitamins, minerals and protective phytochemicals. There are loads of great wholegrains to choose from—wholegrain wheat, brown rice, rolled oats, buckwheat and barley, to name just a few.
Research shows eating wholegrains can help protect against heart disease and stroke, lower cholesterol and blood pressure and improve bowel health. Just three serves of wholegrains could lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by up to 34 per cent.
As a soy food, tofu packs a healthy protein and fibre punch. It also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities. But, perhaps more importantly, tofu can be an incredibly versatile addition to your meals. There are four main varieties—extra firm, firm, soft and silken—allowing it to be added to any number of dishes, from curries to cakes.
Some of the most popular leafy greens are spinach and kale, but watercress, Chinese cabbage and silverbeet are also worth adding to your shopping list. Dark leafy greens are packed with magnesium, which can help to improve your mood, combats tiredness and helps your body produce energy.
Many leafy green veggies also contain fibre, folate and a range of carotenoids, which some researchers believe may help reduce your risk of cancer. Leafy greens can be added to any meal, including your breakfast smoothie, so they are a really simple addition to your weekly diet that are going to make a difference to your health.
Did you know that eating at least 15g of nuts and seeds a day can help reduce the risk of heart disease? That is why the Heart Foundation recommends eating 3-4 small handfuls (about 30g or ¹⁄³ of a cup) of nuts and seeds a week. They contain good sources of fibre, polyunsaturated fats, magnesium, vitamin E and antioxidants.
For more information and research references check out the full article on the Sanitarium website.