10 min read
This story originally appeared in The Conversation
By Daniel de Luis Roman, University of Valladolid
For centuries, inadequate nutritional conditions have harmed human health by causing disease. The problem used to be malnutrition and now, on the other end, obesity.
While there are no miracle foods, it is important to: a balanced nutrition it is undeniable. This is the name of the one that covers all of the individual needs of the various nutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, lipids (fats), minerals, vitamins and water. At the same time, it gives us the energy we need, no more and no less.
In this equilibrium, we have recently identified certain nutrients and substances found in food that act as protective factors and health promoters. With that in mind, at the University of Valladolid we just published book 101 Healthy Foods We Should Have At Home.
In this article, I’ll select ten of the hundred foods we should include in our diet right away.
Of all the greens and vegetables that are available to us, the tomato is worth highlighting.
It belongs to the Solanaceae family and is very watery (almost 95% of its weight) and only provides 20 calories per 100 grams. This low calorie intake is due to the low content of carbohydrates (3.5 g), protein (1 g) and fat (0.1 g). Although the really important thing about tomatoes is the vitamin and mineral content, especially vitamin C (26 mg per 100 grams). It is so concentrated that if we eat 150 grams of tomatoes a day it is enough to meet 100% of the daily needs of this vitamin for a healthy adult.
We can’t fail to mention lycopene, a pigment in the carotenoid family that gives tomatoes their signature red color (and watermelon and pink grapefruit too). Lycopene has antioxidant properties. In addition, various studies have shown that regular inclusion in our diet reduces the risk of developing certain tumors (prostate, pancreas, lungs and colon). From what we know so far, it is taken up quite well by fresh tomatoes, but even better by tomato juice or tomato sauce.
As a good vegetable, it is low in calorie intake (20 calories per 100 grams), protein and fat, and provides mostly carbohydrates and fiber. This food is also an important source of vitamin C, especially red peppers. We haven’t told you yet, but vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that also intervenes in such important processes as collagen, red blood cells, bones and teeth formation. As if that wasn’t enough, it favors the absorption of iron from food and increases infection resistance.
Also noteworthy about paprika is the high concentration of carotenes, including capsanthin, another antioxidant pigment. Its content of provitamin A should not be underestimated either, which the body converts into vitamin A, an essential nutrient for vision, the good condition of skin and hair or the proper functioning of the immune system. This even prevents skin cancer.
It is a legume from the Fabaceae family that is widespread in all Mediterranean countries. Its energy contribution exceeds that of beans and reaches 343 kcal per 100 grams. It is due to the high content of carbohydrates (55 grams per 100) and fat (5 grams). And isn’t that a lot of fat bad? Absolutely. Because they are 50% monounsaturated and polyunsaturated or whatever, is heart healthy. If we add that the cholesterol contribution from chickpeas is zero, then this legume actually has an ideal fat profile.
It doesn’t end there. In addition, its protein content is high (almost 20 grams), it is rich in potassium and potassium phosphorus, and the most famous vitamin in its composition is folic acid (180 ug).
Called the “hen of India” by the Spanish conquerors, it comes from Mexico from the Aztec period, where it was called “Guajalote”. It is part of white meat that is low in fat and low in cholesterol. Turkey’s calorie intake is moderate: less than 130 calories per 100 grams of thighs and less than 100 calories per 100 grams of breast. Therefore ideal for people with a high cardiovascular risk.
What remains of the fish is one of the oily fish par excellence, which has received a lot of attention in recent years due to its contribution to omega-3 acids. It should not be forgotten that regular consumption of omega-3 fatty acids is associated with a beneficial effect on inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and oncological pathologies.
In terms of vitamins, this fish has an interesting contribution from the fat-soluble vitamins D, E and A. Vitamin D is very important for our bone metabolism, and vitamins A and E are powerful antioxidants. It also makes an interesting contribution to water-soluble B group vitamins with important functions in energy nutrient use. Among the minerals, its contribution to phosphorus, which is so important for bone formation, deserves special mention: when we consume 200 grams of sardines, we are consuming 100% of the daily recommendations for this mineral. Calcium intake is also important when consumed with thorns.
This fruit consists of almost 90% water and hardly adds any calories. Its contribution in carbohydrates is small (6 grams per 100) and the percentage of proteins and fats is practically anecdotal (0.6 grams). What it provides is significant amounts of fiber (5 grams). Although its nutritional importance has mostly to do with antioxidants. And not only is it high in vitamin C (22 mg per 100), but it’s also rich in anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants. Anthocyanins give it its characteristic color and, together with oxalic acid or malic acid, are responsible for its characteristic taste and antiseptic properties in the prevention and treatment of urinary tract infections.
Another food that should not be missing in our pantry is the fruit of the tree Mangifera indica, from the same botanical family as pistachios. Native to the northwestern region of India (at the foot of the Himalayas). From a nutritional point of view, the water content is high (almost 85%). It provides 14 grams of carbohydrates per 100 grams and its fat percentage is practically zero. Out of curiosity, let’s say it also contains tartaric acid and malic acid.
In addition, its abundance of fibers improves intestinal transit. In the chapter on vitamins, vitamin C stands out at 37 mg per 100 grams as well as vitamins A and E. This makes it another interesting source of antioxidants that helps us protect our bodies from the signs of aging, eliminating free radicals.
Although unpopular for its high caloric intake (70 calories per 100 grams), it is another interesting food. Provides potassium (350 mg per 100 grams) and to a lesser extent calcium and magnesium. They are also a good source of folic acid for pregnant women and of vitamin B6. As if that wasn’t enough, they provide anthocyanins, flavonoids, and tannins, which are responsible for their color, texture, and flavor. They are credited with reducing cardiovascular risk, reducing oxidation in the arteries, and improving cholesterol levels.
The skin and seeds are rich in resveratrol which has important antioxidant and anti-cancer properties.
It is sacred to the Egyptians and Greeks who used it as a negotiating basis for paying taxes. It has obvious nutritional and healthy properties. There are several types of honey depending on the flower the bees came from and the climate of the area in which they live. There are monofloral, multifloral, mountain honey, desert, dew or forest honey.
The calorie intake is around 300 calories per 100 grams at the expense of carbohydrates and provides very little protein and no fat. This explains why it’s traditionally used topically as an antiseptic to aid healing and infection prevention in wounds or superficial burns: with so much sugar, it physically destroys bacteria through osmotic lysis. That is, by swelling them with water attracted to sugar until they explode.
10. Olive oil
This star food of the Mediterranean diet should not be missing on our list. Thanks to its high oleic acid content (Omega 9), it has clear heart-healthy properties.
Scientific evidence shows that there is a decrease in bad cholesterol (LDL) and an increase in good cholesterol (HDL) in the blood. In addition, it contains plenty of vitamin E, which protects the arteries from cholesterol already in the blood and prevents atherosclerosis.
As an added bonus, the extra virgin olive oil barely infiltrates the food when fried. In addition, a crust forms around food that retains its nutrients, making it the best oil for frying.
Over the past decade, studies published as a result of the PREDIMED study (acronym for Effects of the Mediterranean Diet on Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease) have shown that regular consumption of olive oil reduces cardiovascular events and fractures as a result of osteoporosis and the development some tumors such as breast cancer. It is even associated with a longer lifespan.
Be careful because that doesn’t mean we should consume it without limits. Ultimately, it is a fatty food so it is high in calories and provides almost 900 calories per 100ml.
This article is republished by The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.