“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” –Virginia Woolf
‘Dining well’ is a subjective term. To some, it amounts to multiple courses of edible indulgence, while to others, it is synonymous with frugal, but wholesome eating. Regardless of what you make of the term, the fact is that healthy eating goes a long way in not just nourishing your body, but your mind and spirit as well.
Eating healthy is not about ‘punishing’ yourself by avoiding the goodies you love for life. It’s simply about prioritizing your dietary needs over your wants. There are plenty of wonder foods that aren’t the exotic, hard-to-get varieties touted by celebrity dieticians and trainers. Rather, they are humble, everyday foods we often take for granted.
On that note, here’s our list of must-have wonder foods:
1. Herbs and spices: Curcumin, the main compound in turmeric, is the Swiss Army knife of disease fighters. It has antibiotic and anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory properties and may also hold the key to preventing the onset of dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease.
Cinnamon has one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants in the spice family and balances blood glucose levels. Other notable mentions include ginger and black and cayenne pepper, which boost metabolism and are supposed to have aphrodisiac effects.
Herbs like oregano, rosemary and thyme are also rich in antioxidants and improve digestion, respiratory function, and cardiovascular health.
2. Yogurt: Yogurt is not just a great source of calcium, phosphorus, Vitamin B-12 and protein. It is a great probiotic food since it is packed with ‘good bacteria’ that aid digestion. Yogurt wards off yeast and bacterial infections and, what’s more, it’s an ideal moisturizer that works wonders for the skin and hair too.
3. Green leafy vegetables: Leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, parsley and collard have some of the highest concentrations of iron in the plant world. They are also rich in Vitamin A, which is crucial for eye health.
4. Onions and garlic: Never mind their tendency to give you bad breath. Nature’s most potent antibiotics also play a vital role in curbing cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Studies about their ability to thwart colon, stomach, and prostate cancer have also surfaced over the years.
5. Dark chocolate: Dark chocolate is the perfect indulgence because it is rich in flavonoids, compounds that are effective antiviral and anti-inflammatory agents. Flavonoids are also good for the heart and enhance immunity when supplemented by Vitamin C.
Not all chocolates, however, are rich in flavonoids. Store-bought varieties are often stripped of flavonols to do away with the ‘bitter taste’. The key is to read the label and opt only for dark chocolate with more cocoa mass.
6. Omega-3 rich foods: Omega-3 fatty acids lower ‘bad cholesterol’ levels, but that’s not all. Research has shown that Omega-3 is a notable anti-aging and anti-depressive agent minus the side effects of conventional medications. Walnuts, flaxseeds, cold water fish such as salmon, anchovies, and sardines, and pasture-fed beef are foods you should consider including in your diet.
The list doesn’t stop here. From foods like avocados and olive oil that are replete with ‘good’ monounsaturated fats, fiber-rich beets, berries, and figs that contain phytonutrients, and beans and lentils that are stacked with complex, healthy carbohydrates, nature’s bounty has something to offer to everybody.