If weight control is your goal, add these to your diet.
With summer almost here it is always good to have a reminder of any specific foods we tend to gravitate at this time of year and what health benefits they may offer. So here is my list of summer superfoods to kick start your diet these holidays.
If there was just one fruit that we associated with summer, it would have to be the delicious mango. While a fresh, ripe, fragrant mango may feel like the ultimate indulgence, nutritionally it is hard to fault them. Packed full of Vitamin C and beta carotene (the precursor of Vitamin A), a single mango a day will provide you with a massive for less than 150 calories. In fact, just one cup of chopped Calypso® Mango contains 100 per cent of your daily vitamin C needs. Enjoy them while they last.
An extremely nutritious type of seafood, packed full of protein, calcium, iodine and zinc. While prawns are often linked to adverse effects on cholesterol, there is no evidence that prawns specifically increase blood cholesterol, and thanks to their relatively low fat content you can enjoy them freely. The biggest issue with prawns is what we eat them with. Served grilled or marinated and with salad is fine, but if they are deep fried, or served with creamy sauces and dressings, the bad fat content will be significantly increased, so try and enjoy these tasty treats in as natural a state as possible to reap all the health benefits without the extra calories.
Legumes or beans have made somewhat of a comeback in recent years with cannellini, kidney and borlotti beans featuring regularly in a range of cuisines including Mexican, Italian and Lebanese. All beans are extremely nutritious containing a mix of low glycaemic index carbohydrates, dietary fibre and protein; their relatively high protein content making them a popular meat substitute for vegetarians. The soluble fibre found in beans has been shown to help lower blood cholesterol levels and beans also contain high levels of B-group vitamins, iron, calcium, phosphorous, zinc and magnesium as well as folate. While legumes are often used as the base of meals for vegetarians, they are a perfect carbohydrate and protein source in light Summer salads. And best of all, legumes are extremely cheap, making them a most economical addition to any meal.
The rich, bright colour and texture of beetroot give you some idea of how chock full of nutrition beetroot is. Beetroot contains a number of extremely powerful antioxidants known to support cell health and with minimal calories per serve, is a daily must include in your diet. Roast and add to salads, juice for a tasty mixed vegetable juice or grate and keep handy as an addition to sandwiches, crackers, dips and pates. Recent research also confirmed that the high levels of nitric oxide in beetroot helps to improve blood flow and is a perfect dietary addition for anyone with high blood pressure and/or heart disease.
One of most versatile leaves, fresh baby spinach leaves make a delicious salad base, be added to green juices and is delicious stir fried with a little olive oil and nutrient rich garlic and teamed with light fish meals or as a vegetable base for omelettes and nutrient rich veggie juices. The dark green leaves of spinach gives some insight into its rich nutrient content; spinach leaves are a rich source of Vitamin C, E, K beta carotene and folate and cooking spinach in a little olive oil will help to enhance nutrient absorption.
If weight control is your goal, white fish is your superfood. Exceptionally high in protein, low in fat and calories, any type of white fish ranging from dory, perch, barramundi, sole, flounder and whiting is a superfood when it comes to healthy calorie control. Served grilled, barbecued, baked or even fried in a little olive oil, fish is a perfect base to light meals served with plenty of brightly coloured, nutrient rich veggies.
Consisting of more than 96 per cent water, an entire cucumber contains just 60 calories and is good source of fibre and potassium, which helps to rid the body of extra fluid. Simply munching on a cucumber a day and adding it to green juices and smoothies gives you the benefit of one of nature’s most powerful diuretics through the warmer months.
Often slammed for being relatively high in sugar, what is important to remember is that watermelon as the name suggests is 92 per cent water, and contains just 45 calories per 1 cup serve, making it a low calorie, nutrient rich food despite the fact it contains some natural fruit sugar. High in antioxidants and the phytonutrient lycopene which is linked to heart health long term, you could do a lot worse than choosing some fresh watermelon to snack on. A great addition to mixed juices, a based to salads or as a filling tasty snack, watermelon like cucumbers will help to rid the body of extra fluid.
Greek yoghurt not only contains much less sugar than the average serve of store bought yoghurt but it is much higher in protein which helps to keep your blood glucose levels regulated throughout the day. An added benefit will come if you choose a variety of Greek yoghurt which also contains probiotics, the live bacteria that will help to feed the good bacteria in the gut and is thought to have a powerful role in optimal immune functioning long term. Enjoy with some oats for breakfast, as a filling snack, as a light dessert option, add to smoothies and protein shakes or even as a dressing option with vegetables for a daily calcium boost.
Often forgotten, humble cottage cheese is one of the most nutrient dense foods you can enjoy, with minimal calories. With a serve giving more than 16g of protein per ½ cup along with calcium, magnesium and Vitamin B12, adding a serve of cottage cheese into your day is a great way to bump your intake of essential nutrients. Add to sandwiches or crackers for a protein rich filling, serve with cereal and fruit for breakfast or even use to help add flavor to salads and vegetables.
Susie Burrell is a Sydney-based accredited practising dietitian.
Follow this handy video guide to making a delicious summer salad featuring prawns, fresh mango and avocado.