In my last blog post, I listed 6 super-foods to add to your diet in 2014. They were broccoli, avocados, salmon, sirloin steak, eggs, and oats. Here are 6 more:
1. Lamb’s liver
One of my personal training clients in London asked me to recommend a good source of protein which was also inexpensive, as things like salmon and sirloin steak are relatively expensive. My instant answer was lamb’s liver.
Amazingly inexpensive considering how good a source of protein it is, and easy to stir-fry, lamb’s liver is also packed with micro-nutrients. This is hardly surprising, given that the liver is the storage organ for a range of vitamins and minerals. Liver is rich in vitamins A, D, E, K, and the B vitamins folic acid and B12. It also contains the minerals iron and copper.
Copper is a trace mineral in the human body, but has many vital functions. It plays several roles in metabolism. It is a component in the formation of red blood cells, it assists nerve transmission, and it helps maintain your heart and brain.
So lamb’s liver is cheap, low-fat, easy to prepare, and packed with nutrients.
One of my personal training clients in north London was told by his GP to eat more cheese, as cheese is high in calcium. The problem was, this client was obese, and cheese is high in saturated fat. I recommended this client eat more canned sardines, (including the bones, where the calcium is stored), which are just as rich in calcium as cheese but without such high saturated fat levels. The bones of canned sardines are soft and easily chewed up.
Sardines are also a great source of protein, and rich in omega 3 essential fats.
It’s a good idea to get a wide variety of different colours in your fruit and veg, as this gives you a wide range of flavonoids (natural plant pigments). The purple colour of blueberries is due to their high concentration of flavonoids. Different coloured fruits signify different combinations of flavonoids.
What role do flavonoids play in the body? They protect your memory cells from free-radical damage, as flavonoids work together with the antioxidant vitamin C, which is also contained in blueberries in high concentration. Flavonoids also help reduce inflammation in the body.
Blueberries are also a great souce of the essential mineral manganese, which plays a role in forming healthy bones and connective tissue, and the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates.
4. Young leaf spinach
Spinach is rich in vitamin C and beta carotene. It’s also a good source of vitamin K, crucial for bone health.
If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, spinach is a great source of iron, but you need to eat a lot of it to get the same iron value as you would get from a small serving of red meat. Vegetarian sources of iron are less easily absorbed by the body than from meat sources.
Spinach is also high in fibre, both soluble and insoluble.
As well as being a great source of soluble fibre (which lowers your ‘bad’ cholesterol), it’s a great source of slow-release carbohydrates, which is more gentle on your insulin system.
The main mineral in pumpkins is potassium, which helps lower blood pressure. And the number one vitamin in pumpkins is beta-carotene, essential for healthy vision, and healthy skin. To be more accurate, beta carotene is not itself a vitamin, but a precursor of vitamin A, one of the antioxidants.
6. Live yoghurt
Live yoghurt is a great source of calcium, whose main function in the body is building and maintaining healthy bones. One of my personal training clients in Chelsea was lactose intolerant, so milk was not an option for her, and milk is a rich source of calcium. So I recommended she eat live yoghurt every day.
The other main benefit of live yoghurt is the friendly bacteria (probiotics) it contains. Friendly bacteria is is vital for healthy intestines (both the small intestines and the colon), and live yoghurt keeps this bacteria topped-up. Friendly bacteria helps digestion, and combats harmful bacteria such as Clostridium difficile. A healthy body contains billions of friendly bacteria cells, which weigh around 1.5kg in total.
(Dominic Londesborough is a personal trainer in London)