1. Feel the Pulse – Canned pulses are a good store cupboard stand-by and just 3 tbsp. of canned beans or lentils will count as one of your 5 a day servings. Try adding them to soups, casseroles or salads to boost fibre.
2. Build a better salad – Adding an olive oil based dressing to salad will help the body absorb fat soluble phytochemicals from salad leaves. Choose red peppers instead of green. Red peppers contain nearly twice as much vitamin C as green and over 10 times more beta-carotene. Choose watercress instead of lettuce. Watercress contains 12 times more vitamin C and 3 times more iron than ordinary cos lettuce.
3. Supercharge your sarnie – Swap your tuna mayo sandwich for a salmon sandwich. Although fresh tuna is rich in omega-3 fats, most of the healthier fats are removed in the canning process, but canned salmon does provide good amounts of omega-3 which will help keep your heart healthy. If you mash the soft bones into the flesh, it is also an excellent source of calcium which is important for healthy bones.
4. Cut the fat – When you are making dishes like spaghetti bolognaise or chilli con carne, you can reduce the saturated fat by over 50% by using turkey mince instead of beef mince. By the time you’ve added other ingredients such as tomatoes and onions you’ll hardly notice the difference. Another sneaky way to reduce the fat and boost the fibre at the same time is to reduce the amount of meat by 25% and add a can of brown lentils or baked beans to replace the meat.
5. Cook your carrots – Although people often assume that raw vegetables are more nutritious than fresh, it’s not always the case. Cooking carrots helps to break down their tough cells walls, liberating the carotene contained within the cells which makes it easier for the body to absorb. In fact studies suggest our body can absorb around 50% more carotene from cooked carrots than raw.
6. Drink a glass of 100% fruit juice with cereal – Around half (46%) of girls and 1 in 4 (23%) women below the age of 50 in the UK have low iron intakes which can lead to a lack of energy. Iron is also needed for healthy blood cells. Iron in foods like breakfast cereals is in a form which is not very well absorbed by the body, but absorption can be improved by having glass of 100% pure orange juice (such as Tropicana or try juicing your own) at the same time as cereal as the vitamin C in the orange juice makes it easier for the body to absorb iron and can boost uptake by between 1.5 and 10 times
7. Eat citrus fruits – Whilst many people are happy to invest hundreds of pounds on skin care products to keep their skin glowing and youthful, the majority forget that diet and lifestyle play an important role in how your skin looks and how well it ages. One of best things you can do to keep your skin looking great is to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables. Citrus fruits and their juices are in particular a great source vitamin C, an antioxidant nutrient which can help to reduce the free radicals which can contribute to ageing and wrinkling of the skin.
8. Boost your vitamin D levels – People living in Northern Latitude make very little vitamin D in the winter months (October – March) due to the reduced zenith angle of the sun, so make sure you include foods rich in Vitamin D in your diet in the winter. Useful sources include eggs, fortified breakfast cereals and oil rich fish.
9. Look after your bones while they are still growing – Half of total body calcium stores in women and up to two thirds of calcium stores in men are made during puberty which is why it’s so important to make sure children, teenagers and young adults get enough calcium in their diet while their bones are still growing. Even during periods of slow growth, children need between two to four times more calcium per kilogram of body weight than adults.
10. Make the most of your freezer – Although people often believe that frozen vegetables are nutritionally inferior to fresh that’s generally far from the truth, in fact studies have shown that frozen vegetables often contain higher levels of vitamin C than fresh vegetables. Frozen sweetcorn and peas are a great freezer standby. Add a handful to dishes like spaghetti bolognaise or shepherd’s pie. Frozen spinach is great for making soup or adding to curries