Whether you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day or not, this is a great time to show your body some love by feeding it a wide range of nutrients.
Cold, dark days and lots of bugs flying around take their toll on mental wellbeing and the immune system at this time of year. So, fuelling yourself with the right nutrients is a good way to support your health as much as possible.
Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her top five foods to try this February.
Beautiful acai berries are loaded with powerful antioxidants which have health benefits for the brain, heart, and immune system. Unusually for berries, they also provide some of the healthy omega-6 fatty acids – great for the skin – and oleic acid which is good for the heart.
Acai bowls are still on trend and frozen berries are perfect with toppings of granola, nuts and seeds or desiccated coconut (or anything else you fancy!)
This food often confuses people as it’s not actually wheat! Just like quinoa, it’s actually a seed and is a great source of protein. For those who struggle with digestive issues, especially when eating gluten and wheat, buckwheat is a great alternative and is easily incorporated into the daily diet.
Its high protein content includes the amino acid tryptophan, which is needed to produce the happy hormone serotonin. If you’re wanting your partner in a good mood for Valentine’s Day, then buckwheat could be a great choice!
Why not treat yourself (and your partner) to a delicious breakfast of buckwheat pancakes with a dollop of natural yoghurt and berries of your choice, for a powerful start to the day.
If winter has left you feeling out of sorts, then including beetroot into the daily diet on a regular basis could really kick-start your immune system. Plus, beetroot is a great liver detoxifier. It has often been used as a tonic after illness because it’s loaded with vitamins and minerals. If raw beetroot juice isn’t for you, then try adding some carrot juice to make it slightly more palatable.
Beetroot has a great flavour and makes a lovely accompaniment to goat’s cheese in a salad, in soups, roasted as a vegetable side and even cooked into chocolate brownies. Maybe your Valentine’s Day treat can deliver some great health benefits too!
A member of the cruciferous vegetable family, broccoli delivers plenty of health benefits. It contains plant compounds called indoles which help protect DNA from damage, hence can help provide protection against disease.
Broccoli is also a great source of beta carotene which is turned into immune-boosting vitamin A in the body, plus energising folate, and vitamin C. If you can’t always find fresh broccoli when you want it, then do keep some in the freezer. The nutrient content of frozen vegetables is very good as they are generally frozen and packaged very soon after harvest.
How about cooking up some delicious broccoli and stilton soup for Valentine’s Day or just include broccoli on your dinner plate frequently, in order to enjoy its fabulous health benefits.
These tiny seeds are packed with nutritional goodness, are incredibly versatile and can be used in many recipes including smoothies. One of their main claims to fame is that they are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids which are beneficial for the heart, skin, hormones, joints, and brain.
However, they also fare really well on the mineral front with good levels of iron, magnesium, zinc, calcium, and phosphorus. These are all minerals that are frequently deficient in the typical western diet, deficiencies of which can have a negative impact on health. Chia seeds have also been found to help with weight management, which is down to their high fibre content. They swell in the stomach which then helps to regulate appetite and feelings of fullness. Chia seeds are so easy to add to your daily diet and can really get health on track in readiness for Spring.
So, show your body some love this Valentine’s Day – and every day! It will certainly reward you with improved health.
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