Nutritious and delicious basket buys

Posted on November 27, 2013

"We all eat, and it would be a sad waste of opportunity to eat badly" - Anna Thomas

Making the right food choices when it comes to shopping can be difficult. Whilst we might not like to consider it, we can all be swayed by advertising ploys and supermarket offers. Like Anna Thomas, vegetarian cook and author, says it would be a waste to eat badly. The saying you are what you eat is often bandied about, but how does this actually measure up? If you want to be fit and healthy, then you need to be selective with the foods you eat. Being conscious of what you consume and the effect food can have on you is important. Shopping for healthy produce is a sure-fire way of making you look and feel well, from the inside out. A basket full of superfoods that are fresh and nutritious will help you to introduce good vitamins, oils and fats into your diet.

Nutritionist Kate Cook has been working as a nutrition coach for over nine years, helping her clients to improve their food lifestyle. Shopping for the right food is born out of the knowledge and understanding of what foods are good for you. Buying ingredients that are both delicious and nutritious can help you not only lead a healthier lifestyle but also help your overall wellbeing. We all know a healthy diet can help stave off illness and disease, but what are the best foods to pop in your basket?

Nature's pantry

It goes without saying that fruit and vegetables are good for you - after all we're all told to eat our five a day. It's recommended we do so to help maintain a healthy, balanced diet. In order to receive all the benefits, it's suggested that we eat five 80g portions. Not only do these foods help contribute to our dietary fibre, but they help build your body's immunity to cancer, heart disease and diabetes. But, what fruit and veg are the best source of vitamins, minerals and nutrients?

Pop these in your basket:

  • Apples - Although the saying "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" is a little trite, it's still true. Apples are full of good fibre, called pectin, as well as being an excellent source of antioxidants that contain disease fighting compounds.
  • Nuts - A 30g portion of nuts contains a valuable mix of vitamins and minerals. However, different nuts offer varying health benefits. For instance, almonds are good for your gut whilst pistachios are rich in vitamin B6.
  • Broccoli - The edible tree is full of a variety of goodness including fibre, potassium, folate and phytonutrients, which help reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Just don't boil it for too long - you'll lose all the vital nutrients.
  • Blueberries - According to a study published in the journal Applied Physiology, blueberries could help to improve conditions such as diabetes and metabolic conditions. The consumption of blueberries has also been attributed to reducing the risk of high blood pressure and cognitive decline.

Fisherman's Friend

Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and trout are high in Omega 3 fatty acids as well as vitamins A and D. According to the National Health Service a healthy diet should include two portions of fish a week. At least one of these portions should include 140 grams of oily fish.

Pop these in your basket:

  • Salmon - A rich source of Omega 3 which can be beneficial for the skin, brain and other diseases. According to research by The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), eating a diet containing oily fish can help reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure and raised cholesterol, which are commonly associated with heart disease.
  • Mackerel - Eating unsaturated fats and good oils that are found in fish such as mackerel are not only great for feeding the body vital nutrients but will help enhance memory and performance.

Oats and beans and barley grow

This traditional children's song is not only a wonderful nursery rhyme, but also highly informative. Nature has the cream of the crop when it comes to food that is packed full of healthy nutrients. Sticking to sustainable crops are not only good for you, but also for farming. Why are they good for you? As direct food crops they are unprocessed, meaning they retain all of their nutritive value. They're a good source of dietary fibre, making them great for the gut and are also said to aid lower cholesterol.

Pop these in your basket:

  • Chickpeas - These powerhouse foods are a great addition to your diet. Low in fat and high in fibre, chickpeas are a good source of protein with good levels of B vitamins.
  • Barley - Rich in fibre (both soluble and insoluble), whole grain barley is great for the digestive system. Packed with iron and minerals, a dish of this once a week will provide a decent amount of protein.
  • Oatmeal - A great way to start your day! A bowl of oats topped with apples and sultanas can provide you with an instant boost due to its fibre content. Because of its low glycemic index, oats can provide you with long lasting energy - it's low in fat, too. 

A little bit of what you fancy is good for you

According to the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry a cup of cocoa (using pure cocoa powder) has double the amount of antioxidants as green tea. Dark chocolate is often praised in the media for its health benefits. A recent report by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has confirmed that the flavanols found in cocoa contribute to the lowering of blood pressure: "200 mg of cocoa contributes to normal blood flow."

Everyone deserves a treat now and then, and chocolate is the favourite choice when in need of something sweet. Packed with healthy chemicals flavonoids and theobromine a cube or two of dark chocolate is said to be good for cholesterol levels.

Pop it in your basket:

  • Go for 70 % cacao (or cocoa, which is cacao in its roasted, ground form) chocolate. Dark chocolate that has high cocoa solids is better for you. Due to its rich, satisfying taste you're less likely to overindulge - unlike if you were to snack on milk chocolate.

Fermented grapes are good for you

We don't need much persuading when it comes to wine, but all that wishful thinking seems to have paid off. Whilst we know not to drink excessively, reports have suggested that moderate drinking can have some health benefits. Although the benefits aren't completely clear, research suggests that red wine has protective benefits for your heart.

Pop it in your basket:

  • Red wine - The antioxidant resveratrol can be found in red wine, and according to studies can reduce the risk of heart problems. Drinking a glass, in moderation, can help to protect the heart from developing cardiovascular disease.


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