Eight things I consume daily to stay younger, fitter, healthier, longer…
I will literally eat steamed sweet potato at least 2, sometimes 3 times per day. I have it in my omelettes, salads, disguised in yummy snacks, with other veggies at dinner… I love it!
Although it shares a name with the common potato, it is actually from a completely different family of vegetables and is so much better for you! It is relatively low in calories, but high in fibre, which makes it a good “filler” rather than eating bread, rice, potatoes, pasta etc… all those starchy carbs that make weight loss/management difficult!
Sweet potatoes also contain a high level of beta-carotene, a carotenoid compound that has been found to protect against cancer and ageing. Carotenoids are powerful antioxidants that help soak up damaging compounds produced by the stresses and strains of life, especially when the body is fighting disease. They are also responsible for the red pigment in fruit and vegetables such as carrots and tomatoes. Studies have shown that consuming a diet high in carotenoid-containing vegetables (sweet potato, most dark green veggies, carrots, tomatoes etc) will give you a better “healthy glowing skin” look that a sun-tan will! The test subjects also reported that they tanned more easily in the sun and held a sun-tan for longer as a result of the extra consumption of carotenoids. Beta-carotene is a fat-soluble vitamin, so eating with foods like olive oil or nuts can help you absorb these amazing carotenoids!
A female test subject's skin tone, left: with a suntan, middle: natural, Right: after regularly consuming more carotenoids. (Image: University of Nottingham)
Which leads me to tomatoes! According to mum, these have been my favourite thing since I learned to eat. So for me, all these benefits are just a bonus:
Not only do they carry high levels of carotenoids, but also lycopene, which makes skin less sensitive to damage from UV light, a strong cause of wrinkles and fine lines. Lycopene can also reduce the risk of several cancers, including cervical, ovarian, stomach, mouth, pharynx, throat, oesophagus, colon, rectal, prostate cancer. Tomatoes’ antioxidants (vitamins A and C) fight the free radicals which can cause cell damage. Vitamin A found in tomatoes will also help make hair strong and shiny!
As well as many other vitamins and minerals, tomatoes are a very good source of chromium, which helps to regulate blood sugar. Tomatoes are awesome for weight management because they contain lots of water and fibre, which fills you up fast without adding a lot of calories or saturated fats (tomatoes are fat-free!)
Avocado intake is linked with increased nutrient absorption. A study suggests that, when participants ate salad including avocados, they absorbed up to five times the amount of carotenoids than those who did not. They are one of the best natural mouth washes, working by cleansing the intestine (which is the real cause of coated tongue and bad breath).
My Favourite ways to eat avocado is mashed up with a little fetta cheese and smeared on my veggie omelette, or combined with olive oil to make salads creamy without having to add dressing. I also love it with tomato, or even just on it’s own or with a little salt and pepper.
Avocados are also a rich source of vitamin E, an antioxidant that research has shown may help to limit free radical damage (that damages cells promoting cancer and wrinkles!) For this reason, avocado oil is added in many cosmetics because of its ability to nourish the skin and make your skin glow. It also helps to treat psoriasis, a skin condition that causes redness and irritation. Ancient Mayans (who possibly came up with guacamole) considered the avocado to be a food which keeps joints moving freely and the skin young-looking and supple.
Avocado can also be of benefit topically on the skin, as it’s oil is similar to human oils… Try this avocado facial!
– Remove makeup and wash your face with warm water and a cleanser
– Mash some avocado with a little milk or oatmeal and apply it on your face like a face mask
– Leave it for 10 minutes, then rinse it off thoroughly with water
As one of the oldest known and most powerful spices, I add cinnamon to my breakfast every morning.
When I’m not sweating it out at work or training, I’m swimming at the beach or laying in the sun, and especially in summer, this can be an invitation for nasty fungal infections. Cinnamon has strong antifungal properties, and it’s been said that candida cannot live in a cinnamon environment. Since including cinnamon in my daily diet, I have not had a single fungal infection.Also, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon per day can lower your bad cholesterol (or LDL) for better circulation and heart health. Even just smelling cinnamon boosts cognitive function and memory!
Other than the fact that it’s stacked full of cancer-fighting, anti-ageing, blood-sugar regulating, body-cleansing vitamins and minerals… Asparagus is amazing for weight loss. How? Four asparagus spears have just 13 calories, 1g of protein, no fat, no cholesterol, hardly any sugar and just 8 mg of sodium. Asparagus is loaded with fibre, which means your body has to burn more calories just to process these 4 little spears!
I usually use asparagus in my daily brekky omelette, it goes in all my salads as well as being a key ingredient in one of my favourite snacks: tomato and asparagus wrapped in leg ham off the bone!
I eat 3 eggs every day, and that’s just for breakfast… More if I have them in a salad later in the day.
Eggs are one of the best sources of protein around (needed for muscle and cell growth and repair). In fact, the biological value (a measure of protein quality) is often evaluated by comparing it to eggs, which are given the perfect score of 100. While most people are aware that “egg whites” are good for you due to their high protein content, what most people don’t know is that all the nutrients of an egg are actually contained in the yolk. And a LOT of nutrients at that… Egg yolks contain a small amount of almost every essential vitamin and mineral required by the human body!
What about the cholesterol?
One large egg contains 212 mg of cholesterol, which is high compared to many other foods. But just because a food contains cholesterol, doesn’t mean that it will raise the bad cholesterol in the blood. Your liver actually produces cholesterol every day. If you eat cholesterol, then your liver produces less. If you don’t eat cholesterol, then your liver produces more of it. Studies have shown that eggs actually IMPROVE the cholesterol profile. They raise HDL (good) cholesterol and increase the size of LDL particles, which should lower the risk of heart disease.
The first thing I eat each day when I wake up at 430am is my chia seed pudding. It’s an awesome high-protein, low-carb brekky, high fibre option, and 3 tbs keeps me full til around 8-10am when I have time to make a bigger breakfast. Other than the fact that these little guys are considered a super food, my favourite thing about them is that they absorb an incredible amount of water, so if you soak them for a few hours (I usually leave them overnight so they’re ready when I wake up), they turn into a jelly-like consistency. They’re pretty tasteless, so you can add whatever to them and give them any flavour you like!
Also, they don’t need to be refrigerated, so the chia pudding is a great snack to have handy when on the go!
Spinach is one of the most versatile vegetables and will go in or with just about anything! It’s also rated as the one of the most nutrient dense, lowest calorie vegetables in existence, so it’s perfect for a getting a huge hit of nutrients without over-doing the calories. One cup fresh spinach = about 7 kCal and one cup cooked spinach = about 40 kCal, with about 30% of those coming from proteins (varies in different types). And it’s another carotenoid vegetable!
I put spinach in and with just about EVERYTHING. Salads, omelettes, breakfasts, dinners… Chopped up really small, you don’t even notice it’s there!
And although this isn’t a “food” as such, it’s still one of the most important things I do to look after my body.
I don’t smoke, I rarely drink, and I avoid taking painkillers every single time I have a minor ache or pain. I try to mostly eat unprocessed natural foods rich in enzymes, which means my body has to use less of it’s own enzymes to break down food… keeping me younger, fitter and healthier, longer!