As far as living a healthy and balanced lifestyle is concerned, as well as regular exercise and physical activity, experts will recommend putting a particular emphasis on our diet and nutrition. Eating a healthy and balanced diet is beneficial in a number of different ways, and not just for when it comes to losing weight in order to look and feel better about ourselves either. Consuming food and drink that is rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients that do the body a whole world of good, is essential for maintaining optimal health and hopefully prolonging our lives and improving our overall quality of life in the process. Now, as far as healthy produce is concerned, generally speaking you can’t go wrong with fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish, seafood, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and plenty of fresh water. But, what you may not have been aware of, is that there are ways of improving the quality of the food and drink you consume, and ensuring that you’re getting the most natural goodness out of whatever it is that you’re planning on consuming. Here’s a look at a few examples to help you get the most out of your healthy produce.
Consume it as fresh as possible
Obviously you know you should consume fish, meat, and seafood when it’s fresh as otherwise it will turn rotten, which is not only not going to provide any goodness, it will likely make you every ill. But what about fruits and vegetables? Often, people will purchase fresh fruits or vegetables, and leave them in the cupboards or their fridges for days, weeks, possibly even months before they get around to eating them. With broccoli for example, when it is fresh and full of nutrients it will be a deep vibrant green colour. The longer you leave it, the deep green colour will begin to fade until the broccoli is now yellow. By this time, much of the natural goodness will now be gone, yet people will still eat it anyways. Many vegetables should be crisp and firm, yet when we leave them too long, they become soft and floppy, another sign that most of their natural goodness is no longer present. Simply put, with healthy foods, particularly fruits and vegetables and foods that go off quickly, in order to benefit from maximum nutrient consumption, consume them as fresh as you possibly can.
Mix and match
Another great way of super-charging your meals full of natural goodness is to mix and match various healthy ingredients with one another. For example, if you were to eat a portion of fresh vegetables, along with a takeout pizza, although the vegetables will still be better than none, the amount of junk contained in that pizza will far outweigh the natural goodness of the vegetables. However, if you were to consume a slice of poached salmon, rich in protein and omega 3 fatty acids, along with a serving steamed fresh vegetables and a portion of boiled brown rice, you would have a meal crammed full of natural goodness, providing protein, complex carbs, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. By combining them, you can really get the most out of your meals by putting more goodness inside your body.
Don’t overcook them
Another common mistake that people tend to make, again, especially when preparing fresh vegetables, is to cook them until they’re so soft that they turn to mush almost. Of course cooking them is not that much of an issue, however, they don’t need to be overcooked. During the heating process, all foods will lose a portion of their natural goodness and nutrient content, but providing they aren’t overcooked, they will still retain much of what it is that makes them so healthy. If possible, cook your vegetables until they’re softened, but still firm, and retain their distinct crunch and snap when chewed or broken. Simply put, the longer you cook them, the more of the nutrients will be destroyed.
If possible, consume them in their raw state
Again, when foods are heated, they lose a percentage of their nutrient content which is why it could be beneficial to you if you were to consume them in their raw and natural state. Again, this mainly applies to fruits and vegetables, although consuming fruits raw shouldn’t really be an issue for most of us. Vegetables however, could be more of an issue. Some vegetables are delicious when eaten raw, just look at carrot and celery sticks with fresh hummus for example. Salads are great for adding healthy foods in their raw state as you can use mixed leaves, mixed peppers, onions, olives, cucumber, tomatoes, and more. Just a quick note on the tomatoes however, and that is that studies have revealed that when they’re heated and cooked slightly, tomatoes release much more on a natural antioxidant known as lycopene, which is considered very healthy and beneficial indeed.
Always rinse fruits and vegetables well before eating
Another mistake that many people tend to make with fruits and vegetables, is eating them right away before washing and rinsing them. People think that we should only wash them to rinse away soil from the ground, and so if the vegetable looks clean they won’t bother. In reality however, the reason they should be washed and rinsed under fresh cold water is to wash away chemical pesticides and fertilisers used to grow them in the first place. Even if the food says it is washed and ready to eat, it is recommended that you rinse it again just to be sure as these chemicals are no good for us at all.
Juice or blend them together
If you’re looking to get an instant shot of natural goodness in your body, why not combine a selection of vegetables together, gently cook them, and then blend together into a soup? This tastes great, and is a great way of combining numerous vegetables at once. If you have a juicer, combine fresh fruits and vegetables together and drink the juice they create. Not only are the above ways both great for increasing nutrient consumption, as they’re in liquid form, they will be much easier digested and absorbed and so can get into your system much quicker, before the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients can be damaged by stomach acids during digestion.