We all want to be healthier – but not all of us are in a place where we can or even want to make sweeping changes to the way that we eat.
Luckily there are a load of simple things that you can do which will instantly upgrade your diet without much effort at all. By making a slightly different choice or adding a little something extra you can change the nutritional quality of the foods you eat.
These little changes can make a huge impact – so why not try to incorporate some of them into your daily routine.
Here are some of my favourite health hacks:
Choose more vibrantly coloured fruit and veg
Now eating any fruit and veg is a great start to a healthy diet and all fruit and veg offers a wealth of awesome nutrients and fibre. But why not get more bang for your buck.
By choosing those fruits and vegetables that are more intense in colour you will be getting even more of all the good stuff. The more brightly coloured the fruit or vegetable, the more protective the health benefits. This is due to a richer assortment of health promoting phytochemicals present in the pigments in the skin.
So when eating a salad – sub out the iceberg lettuce for darker varieties like romaine or red leaf. Even better try spinach, kale or rocket (arugula). Go for sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes. Use red onions instead of white onions -eat red grapes instead of green – red apples instead of green apples – red or purple carrots instead of orange carrots – red cabbage instead of white cabbage, pink grapefruit instead of yellow. I think you get the idea.
Use more herbs and spices
Just as plant colours are an indicator of health benefits – so too are flavours. Scientists are now discovering that many of the flavour compounds in herbs and spices are super powerful antioxidants too. That’s right – the flavours are the antioxidants!!
One of the best spices that you can (and should) add to you daily diet is turmeric. The active component in turmeric, called curcumin, is an incredibly powerful anti-inflammatory. It has been shown to speed recovery after surgery, and treat rheumatoid arthritis better than leading drugs. It can also help with a range of conditions from brain disease to a variety of cancers. Check out the info from nutritionfacts.org if you want to learn more.
So how to take your turmeric? Well you only need a really small amount – 1/4 teaspoon a day or a half centimetre of the fresh root. I like to throw a bit of the root into a smoothie, or slice it over a salad. I also drink turmeric tea, it takes a bit of getting used to, but once you do it is surprisingly enjoyable.
But don’t stop with turmeric – sprinkle spices and herbs into all your meals. It is amazing the nutritional punch that just a teaspoon here and there can add to your overall diet. Plus it makes things tastier – BONUS!
Some great herbs and spices to try: Allspice, basil, bay leaves, cardamom, chilli, coriander, cinnamon, cumin, dill, garlic, ginger, horseradish, lemongrass, marjoram, parsley, pepper, rosemary, saffron, sage, thyme, and vanilla.
Sprinkle on some nuts and seeds
Did you know you could increase your lifespan by two years just by eating nuts regularly? – Let alone all the other health benefits.
Sprinkle chopped nuts and seeds over a salads, yoghurt or your morning oatmeal. Seeds and nuts are also a great addition to your green smoothie – I love chia seeds, hemp seeds and sesame seeds in mine. Adding nuts to your smoothies makes for a more satisfying shake.
A special mention to flaxseeds here which you should try to get in every day. Flaxseeds convey a lot of different benefits but in particular they help lower blood pressure and are highly protective against both prostate cancer and breast cancer. They are also a great source of Omega 3’s. Highly recommended!
It’s best to use the ground flaxseeds, or flax meal ( as the seeds will often pass through your system undigested – so you miss out on most of the benefits). It makes a light, nutty, pretty tasty powder that is easy to use. Sprinkle over salads and soups, stir into you smoothie or just about anything you are eating. If you are baker replace a small amount of flour with flax for a healthy boost.
Replace water with green tea, some of the time
We all know we should be drinking a good amount of water everyday – but it doesn’t all have to be plain H2O. Why not shake things up a bit and have a green tea as part of the mix? Not only are you getting a whole lot of disease fighting phytonutrient goodness but you are also sneaking in some more greens.
Drink it hot, or make a jug of iced green tea and keep it handy in the fridge.
Swap out your milk chocolate for dark chocolate
We all need a little treat every now and then – but why not make it healthier if you can. Swap out milk chocolate with good quality dark chocolate and you can indulge while doing you body good at the same time. Now that is a win win.
Replace beer and white wine with red wine
Although drinking no alcohol is the best way to go for your health, most of us grown-ups do indulge from time to time. So if you are not ready to give it up completely (and I know I’m not) why not give your nightly tipple an upgrade and switch out beer and white wine for red wine. Take advantage of the resveratrol which protects against stroke and heart disease.