Mix and match the foods on your plate to maximise the nutrients
Enhancing the nutritional value of everyday foods is easier than you think – simple changes to the way you cook or shop can make a real difference. Here’s what I recommend doing to consistently get the most from your diet.
When fruit and vegetables are cut, they start to lose their nutrient content. Chop them only when you are ready to cook them. Keeping the skin on your vegetables or fruit can also affect nutrient value. For most fruit and vegetables, the nutrients are stored just under the zest and the skins are also a great source of fibre. Instead of peeling, scrub and cook them with their skins on.
When cooking your vegetables, choose steaming rather than boiling. The steaming process helps the food to retain its nutrients, whereas boiling causes the nutrients to leach into the water. If you do boil, use as little water as possible and save this water to use in soups and sauces. Don’t throw away the stems either. The stems of vegetables, such as broccoli, are packed with nutrients but are often thrown away. Instead, use them to make soups and juices. During the autumn and winter seasons, revive the slow cooker. Low temperatures preserve many of the essential nutrients found in meat. It can also make the meat more digestible, without destroying the benefits of the amino acids (the building blocks of cellular strength and repair).
Foods that are grown in season tend to be picked when they are ripe, which increases the nutrient value. It also means that we are supplied with the right balance of nutrients at the time that we need them – Mother Nature cleverly provides vegetables rich in carotenes for immune support in the autumn, for example. In the colder months, choose warming soups and roasted root vegetables (these are abundant in autumn and winter) and, in the warmer months, choose lighter salads and meals. According to naturopathic and traditional Chinese medicine, eating in this way also supports digestion.
Eating seasonally can increase the variety of colour on your plate. Eating a rainbow of coloured food each day improves your intake of natural plant phytochemicals that support everything from cognition to immunity.
Eating in a way that nourishes you does not need to be obsessive. In fact, quite the opposite – healthy eating is an emotional and physical experience. Taking the time to enjoy your food can affect how well your food is used by your body. For many, the sense of balance when choosing food has been lost. Instead, food choices are governed by calories or adverts. Listen to your body’s needs and provide it with the most nutrient-dense, nourishing fuel.
Be present with your food and chew thoroughly. The process of digestion begins in the mouth, where enzymes are secreted in saliva to break down food. If you don’t chew properly, you may be subject to indigestion and other digestive problems. The act of eating allows you to be mindful and ‘in the moment’of your exchange of energy with foods.
Henrietta Norton is an established nutritional therapist, women’s health expert and founder of award-winning supplement brand Wild Nutrition
6 issues for £19.99*
when you subscribe today
Exclusive prizes from our Heaven Skincare, Senspa, Green People and more...