Updated: Oct 8, 2019
Weight loss should always be achieved in a healthy manner. Severely restricting your caloric intake is not recommended and can lead to mineral and vitamin deficiencies which, in turn, will hamper your weight loss efforts. With that being said, to lose weight, you MUST be in a calorie deficit - burning more calories than you consume - and this is done in two ways, calorie restriction and an increase in exercise. Because of this, more often than not, you will be told to eat less of this and less of that.
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There are foods, however, which we should eat more of regardless of our nutritional goals due to their health-promoting benefits. Here are 5 of these foods:
Blueberries are often found at the top of traditional "healthy foods" lists, and for a good reason. Not only are they low in calories and low in sugar they contain high amounts of minerals and vitamins such as:
Blueberries also are high in antioxidants. Antioxidants are compounds which fight harmful free radicals. Free radicals are essentially highly reactive molecules which cause havoc in the body leading to an increased risk of certain cancers, inhibited cell function and a reduction in cognitive performance. Antioxidants bind to free radicals and "neutralise them". When there is a higher ratio of free radicals to antioxidants the problems start. Eating a diet high in antioxidants helps redress the balance and can reduce the risk of the illnesses mentioned.
Yes, eggs. Whole eggs, yolks included! There is a debate as to whether or not eggs are healthy (why there is a debate is beyond me) which needs to be cleared up. The idea that eggs are bad for you stems from the 1970's when doctors realised that an increase in cholesterol levels can lead to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. By putting two and two together (and getting five by the way) they deduced that eating foods high in cholesterol raises our levels of cholesterol. As it turns out, this is not the case (1). Recent studies have shown that our cholesterol levels are influenced more by genetics, age and gender (2). So, eat more eggs.
Eggs - in particular, the yolks - are a great source of:
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WILD SOCKEYE SALMON
Salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, amongst other things. The problem is, however, that the salmon you are getting from your supermarket may not be as healthy as we think. Farmed salmon - the type we normally find on our supermarket shelves - has a slightly different nutritional profile than wild-caught salmon, often containing more fat and less astaxanthin.
Astaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant which wild salmon obtain by eating plankton which also gives wild salmon a deep red colour. Farmed salmon are fed a diet devoid of plankton and, therefore, astaxanthin so are a lighter shade of orange. Though it is recommended to eat less farmed salmon and more wild salmon, you should limit your intake as wild salmon levels are starting to drop (3).
Wild salmon is an excellent source of:
Wild salmon species to look out for include Sockeye, Chinook and Coho.
Mushrooms are magical! OK, all (terrible) jokes aside, mushrooms are a fantastic source of many health-promoting compounds. From beta-glucan which is a type of soluble fibre strongly linked to improving heart health, to selenium which is an important mineral with powerful antioxidant properties.
Aim to consume a variety of mushrooms such as portobello, chestnut and button mushrooms, which can all be found supermarkets, and other slightly more exotic mushrooms such as maitake, shiitake and lion's mane, which may be harder to come by.
A staple in Mediterranean cuisine, the humble olive packs a powerful punch when it comes to heart health benefits. This little fruit (yes, it is a fruit) provides high levels of vitamin E - a powerful antioxidant - and oleic acid which has been linked to numerous heart benefits (4). Aim to consume both black and green olives in their whole form and use extra virgin olive oil as a dressing.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John Maitland is a personal trainer with over 10 years’ experience. He has worked alongside a wide range of leading CEO's, entrepreneurs and medical professionals. John is a keen athlete and holds a black belt in Shaolin Kung fu. A fan of the great outdoors, he can often be found exploring the British countryside and mountains...or breaking pine boards with his fingers.