As a follow on from the recent series on the Weekly Grocery Shopping List of foods that contain the nutrients the body needs that contain the nutrients the body needs I am going to repeat my series from 2017 on the health benefits of some of our most common foods.
Food therapy is a broad term for the benefits to the body of a healthy, varied and nutritional diet of fresh foods.
Most of us walk through the fresh produce departments of our supermarkets without really paying much attention to the individual fruits and vegetables. This is a great pity because the vast majority of these foods have been cultivated for thousands of years, not only for their nutritional value but also for their medicinal properties. If you eat a healthy diet you are effectively practicing preventative medicine. A robust immune system, not only attacks external opportunistic pathogens, but also works to prevent rogue cells in the body from developing into serious disease.
NOTE – If you are on any prescribed medication do not take yourself off it without consultation with your doctor. If you follow a healthy eating programme and lose weight and are exercising you may not need the same dose and with your doctor’s agreement you may be able to reduce or come off the medication all together.
This week I thought I would bring some of the elements together of both the Food Therapy Series and Project 101 – Resilience, in a delicious way to give your body a boost.
Our local berry shop has re-opened recently following the lock down and is offering fresh raspberries and strawberries. About this time of year I find myself craving fruit and I end up substituting on of my lighter meals each day with a bowl with some yogurt.
You can mix and match your favourite fruits, but I have selected a few to share with you to illustrate the amount of health benefits they can bring to your body and brighten your day.
First a word about Fruit Smoothies
It is unfortunate that the food industry has latched onto fruit smoothies and labelled them healthy. The industrial process of producing a smoothie removes much of the goodness of the fruit, pumps sugar into the body and does not do much for your teeth either. When the fibre is pureed in the process in the factory or at home, it reduces the body’s ability to process the fructose slowly; giving you one big sugar hit. Squeezing fruit and removing all the fibre is actually worse as there is not even the pureed fibre to slow the absorption down.
Commercially produced smoothies also have a number of industrially produced elements that sort of takes away from the wholesome image and so sometimes… going back to basics is best. Carol Taylor has some great recipes for home-made smoothies that are much healthier along with some amazing ‘Cook from Scratch’ recipes for all the family.
I do drink vegetable smoothies, especially dark green leafy vegetables, with a carrot to add some sweetness. I usually make mine with cold Green Tea to add its health benefits and you can add other herbal teas too, such as peppermint or ginger which are great for the digestion.
I believe in having at least 8 portions of vegetables and fruit a day.. People often say that they could not possibly eat that much, but in fact it is easier than you think.
- A chopped banana on your cereal for breakfast.
- Some nuts and chopped apple for snack,
- A salad with a large tomato, new potatoes, dark green lettuce and spinach mix and chopped red pepper for lunch with protein.
- Broccoli, mushrooms and grilled onions with a chicken breast and a large spoon of brown rice for evening meal.
If you add that up you have consumed 7 different types of vegetable with a serving of nuts and three of fruit.
I tend to eat my fruit in the form of a fruit salad that I make and eat, either as a snack in the morning, or take with me when on the go. If I am not having a particularly active day, I will have as my supper. I vary the fruits according to the season and also sneak in a couple of tropical additions from time to time.
Make sure that any fruit that you buy is fresh and high quality and I usually try to find a local grocer if possible who is sourcing the fruit from the area. Try to make the fruit salad fresh every day as cut fruit, like vegetables loses its nutrients once it is prepared.
All of the fruits are alkaline-forming, which will help maintain the necessary pH -Acidity/Alkalinity balance for health and healthy amounts of the anti-oxidants necessary for protection against free radicals, and they all boost the immune system. Individually they add their own specific properties that make them ‘super fruits’ and provide a delicious way to protect your health and repair your body from the inside.
You can use any fresh, unprocessed and sugar free juice as a base but don’t drown the fruit, just use enough to moisten the fruit and help it slip down. I usually use coconut water, which is good source of potassium and is alkaline boosting… I also use blueberry, cranberry or apple juice for a fruit salad I am making for visitors, and usually buy fresh pressed that still has bits of fibre in.
THE APPLE really can help keep the doctor away as long as you eat the skin as well. Fibre helps reduce unhealthy cholesterol therefore helping reduce your risk of heart attacks and strokes. Pectin in apples will also help your body eliminate heavy metals such as mercury and lead. Like onions, this fruit contains high levels of a flavanoid called Quercitin, which is a very powerful anti-oxidant that has been shown to protect against heart attacks. Apple peel contains certain anti-oxidants called phenols that appear to offer us some protection from harmful UV- B rays. You can find out more about this powerful fruit Project 101 – An Apple a Day
THE KIWI is one of the more alkaline forming foods that adds not only the usual healthy fruit benefits to a fruit salad but has some of its own unique benefits. Kiwi fruit has been the subject of research because of its seeming ability to protect the DNA in the nucleus of the human cell from oxygen related damage. Although the Kiwi has an extremely high Vitamin C content, researchers believe that it is the combination of all its anti-oxidants that gives it this unique ability. One particular health area that really benefits is respiratory disease such as asthma.
THE PAPAYA is not just a taste of the tropics; it has some very powerful healing qualities that make its taste secondary. Papayas are rich sources of antioxidant nutrients, the B vitamins and the minerals, potassium and magnesium; and very importantly, fibre. Together, these nutrients promote the health of the cardiovascular system and may also provide protection against colon cancer. In addition, papaya contains the digestive enzyme, Papain, which is used to treat inflammatory diseases, injuries and allergies.
THE APRICOT has nutrients that can help protect the heart and eyes, as well as providing an excellent source of fibre. Eating Apricots has been shown to prevent the oxidation of LDL, which is the unhealthy cholesterol, this prevents plaques forming and lining the arteries. The apricot is also an alkaline forming food, which is great for helping the body maintain the correct acid/alkaline balance.
Apricots contain nutrients, such as the anti-oxidant Vitamin A, that promote healthy eyesight by destroying the free radicals that can damage the eyes’ lenses.
THE PINEAPPLE is rich in Bromelain which is an enzyme that helps digest proteins. It obviously aids digestion but it can also reduce inflammation and swelling. It is used for sore throats, more degenerative diseases such as arthritis and gout and can also to help patients to recover from operations.
Pineapple should always be eaten either alone or with non- protein foods otherwise the Bromelain’s effect will be reduced as it adopts its digestive role.
Pineapple of course contain the usual high quantities of Vitamin C to boost the Immune system but it also contains an excellent amount of manganese, which is a trace mineral essential for energy production and building the anti-oxidant line of defence. It provides a fantastic support for the body to fight off colds, flu and other bacterial and viral infections.
THE BLUEBERRY may be less available here in Europe and is more expensive than other fruits, but just adding one small basket of this very powerful fruit to your fruit salad will have some tremendous benefits. It is considered to be the most powerful anti-oxidant fruit and has been shown to benefit a diverse range of conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma, varicose veins, heart disease and cancers. Some of its properties actually enhance the work that other anti-oxidants such as Vitamin C are involved in. It strengthens the vascular system throughout the body, which degenerates as we get older.
You can add other fruits in season or for taste – Raspberries, Strawberries, blackcurrants, gooseberries, mango, pears etc, all of which have wonderful nutritional benefits.
If you are having a dinner party then you can add a small amount of liqueur into the fruit salad such as cointreau.. and serve with a dollop of cream or ice-cream.. I won’t tell anyone if you don’t!!
©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2020
I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-two years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.
If you would like to browse my health books and fiction you can find them here: My books and reviews 2020
Thank you for dropping in today and your feedback and questions are very welcome.. thanks Sally.