Feel like you over-ate these holidays? If you answered yes, don’t fret. One of the greatest joys of the holiday season is getting together with loved ones to enjoy a meal and a few drinks, and it’s easy to lose sight of a ‘everything in moderation’ mantra while doing so.
But now that the festive season is over, it’s the perfect time to get your health back on track. Unfortunately, that’s often easier said than done, so Starts at 60 chatted with leading nutritionist Teresa Mitchell-Paterson to find out which foods you should include in your diet for a healthier 2021.
Mitchell-Paterson recommends adding avocados to your diet, whether they be smashed on toast or chopped into cubes for your salad.
I know what you’re thinking: ‘Isn’t avocado fatty?!’ In theory, that’s correct, but the fats found in avocado are ‘good fats’. Good fats have an anti-inflammatory effect, which is important for heart health and other functions of the body, including digestion. In fact, avocados actually contain a cholesterol-lowering adiponectin, a protein hormone, that helps regulate glucose levels and breakdown fatty acids.
Mitchell-Paterson recommends swapping white rice for its whole grain variety, explaining, “This can [help keep] your waistline a little trimmer”.
Studies show that eating more whole grains can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. She says this is due to the variety’s high magnesium count, as the nutrient plays an important role in cardiovascular health.
The anthocyanins (a natural pigment that gives red colour to brown rice) and tocopherols (vitamin E) in brown rice also reduce inflammation in the liver, which she says “is common after eating and drinking too much”.
If it’s green, thrown it in, Mitchell-Paterson says. Apart from being very low in calories, greens like kale, spinach, bok choy and broccoli also consist of a variety of powerful nutrients that come with a number of health benefits such as improved heart health and weight loss.
“Try adding them raw to a salad, or cook them in [some] extra virgin olive oil,” she recommends, explaining that extra virgin olive oil increases the absorption of certain nutrients found in the vegetables.
“Beetroots help to increase liver clearance via a nutrient called betaine,” she says, adding potassium, iron, vitamin C and folate are also found in this versatile vegetable.
Mitchell-Paterson reckons beetroot works great in a salad for a bit of colour or as a side to a main dish. She also recommends working in some yellow or white beetroot, aside from the usual purple variety for something a bit different.
If you’ve spent the last few weeks enjoying a few more drinks than usual, Mitchel-Patterson recommends reaching for the fruit bowl. She says the citric acids in citrus fruits like lemons decrease liver damage and toxicity. Lemons are also rich in potassium, which helps regulate fluids in your body and helps to flush out sodium.
“Add citrus to salad dressing for an extra zing, or douse roast potatoes and chicken in the juice for a Greek-style twist to your meal.”
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