Eating clean means cutting down on processed foods and eating more real foods.
The idea is to focus on produce like fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, and whole grains, keep an eye on sodium and cut down on the consumption of sugar and meat.
Here’s a list of 15 clean foods to focus on for the rest of 2018:
Edible Flowers: For Multiple Antioxidants
It’s time to move beyond thinking of edible flowers as just a quirky and sophisticated garnish to a dish. Besides adding adding color and a touch of whimsy, they deliver a lot of health payback too.
Flowers are very high in antioxidants which can help lower the risk of heart disease and cancers. They also have trace elements such as calcium, zinc and magnesium and many contain Vitamins A, C and E and the elusive Vitamin D.
Plus of course they all have fibre, and have almost nil fat - both are winning food strategies.
Banana flowers, borage, rose, calendula, chamomile and lavender are some great options to cook with.
Mushrooms: To Score Vitamin D
Most of us find difficult to even begin developing a taste for mushrooms, but trust me it’s time to change that. Ignoring this humble food means giving the multiple health benefits it packs within it, a miss.
Mushrooms are low in calories (250 gm give just 80 calories), have nil fat and cholesterol, deliver good quality protein, and lots of difficult to find antioxidant selenium and vitamin D. They help beef up your immunity immensely.
Tofu: For High-Quality Vegetarian Protein
Anything meat does, tofu can do too; it is very versatile and has a wonderful texture.
Besides tofu is a good source of protein (contains all eight essential amino acids), is an excellent source of iron, calcium and many minerals like manganese, selenium and phosphorous, and is loaded with phytonutrients.
Homemade Yogurt: For Some Good Bacteria
Commonest fermented food, yogurt is milk that has been cultured with two very specific strains of bacteria: streptoccus thermophilus and lactobacillus bulgaricus.
It must ideally be part of our main meals, both lunch and dinner.
Besides calcium and protein, it delivers gut health too. But as far as possible stick to home-made dahi.
Tomatoes: For Your Heart Health
If tomato is not your best friend already - please remedy that right away!
Research now links lycopene (that tomato is loaded with) with the reduction of heart diseases.
In fact, lycopene has been found to be ten times more powerful than vitamin E and its benefit actually gets enhanced when it is cooked with a little oil. The heat makes more antioxidants available and a little bit of oil helps improve its absorption.
Buckwheat: To Score Gluten-Free Goodness
Buckwheat is not really a grain, rather it is a seed. Japanese have turned it into a kind of noodles (called Soba), but in India we mostly have it as flour.
Besides being a good source of vegetarian protein (100 gms gives 12 gm protein), buckwheat helps improve circulation, lower blood cholesterol and control blood glucose levels too, and it is gluten-free.
Chickpeas: For Hunger Control
Chickpeas are loaded with fibre, which helps fill up with less (research shows that urge to snack is lower after eating chickpeas) and also lowers cholesterol and triglycerides in the body, thus are extremely healthy for the heart.
Beetroot: For Taming Your Blood Pressure
High nitrate content in beetroot gets converted to nitric oxide in the body and helps to relax and dilate the blood vessels, improving blood flow and thus keeping the blood pressure stable.
Beetroot is also rich in antioxidant betaine, which has anti-inflammatory properties and keeps cholesterol levels in control.
Spinach: For Your Eye Health
This leafy green has to be the most underrated food around. Spinach is a great source of not only protein (surpise!), but also of extensive antioxidant coverage.
Spinach is loaded with health-promoting phytonutrients and has more than a dozen already identified anti-cancer agents and heart healthy folate. It is rich in Vitamin A (carotenoids).
Two of the carotenoids - lutein and zeaxanthin, are great for your eyesight.
Bell Peppers: For Whittling Your Waist Down
Bell peppers have a metabolism-boosting compound, dihydrocapsiate, which can help you slim down.
Bell peppers also have high vitamin C content - a cup of these veggies serves up to three times the day’s recommended vitamin C limit. This important nutrient counteracts stress hormones that trigger fat storage around the midsection.
Sprouted Brown Rice: To Fight Diabetes Better
Brown rice is as it is a reliable healthy option, but by sprouting it, you can score even more health beneﬁts.
Sprouting boosts rice’s dietary ﬁber content, and lowers the glycemic index (helps ﬁght diabetes better). It also helps reduce the risk for heart disease and helps bust depression and fatigue.
Amaranth: To Cut Inflammation From Your Body
Go local with amaranth. It is one of the most protein-rich plant-based food.
Besides the superlative protein, this grain delivers calcium, potassium and iron, plus lots of vitamin E and magnesium. The anti-inflammatory properties of peptides and oils in amaranth also help ease pain and reduce inflammation.
Sattu: For Cheap High-Quality Protein
Sattu is a high energy and protein giving food which is a perfect mixture of all the necessary ingredients - protein, carbohydrate, iron, calcium, and vitamins.
Sattu is good for both weight watchers as well as for muscle builders. 100 grams of sattu gives a whooping 23 grams of protein (and 350 calories).
Jackfruit - To Lose Weight Naturally
Jackfruit is a natural weight loss aiding food, if had the right way.
For starters, it is not high in calories (100 gm gives 90 calories) and is made up of simple sugars like fructose and sucrose that replenish energy and revitalise the body instantly.
Plus, it is rich in dietary fibre, which pump up its satiety value (keep you full for a longer time) and an antioxidant found in it - resveratrol might actually be the key to trimming inches. Just don't fry it and eat.
Raspberry - For Maximising The Consumption of Antioxidant
Berries are toasted world over for their antioxidant levels. But it’s time to give due to a homegrown berry - raspberry - as it packs a punch with its antioxidant power.
This tangy tiny berry is an unsung weight loss super food too, thanks to a natural chemical in it that fires up metabolism.
(Kavita is a nutritionist, weight management consultant and health writer based in Delhi. She is the author of Don’t Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People (Jaico) and Ultimate Grandmother Hacks: 50 Kickass Traditional Habits for a Fitter You (Rupa).)
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