Just when you thought you were on the right track to eating healthy, it turns out that some innocent food habits have been ruining all the effort you put in. Pearl Mathias tells you how
Rounding up a diet of fruits and vegetables for your meals or piling on the latest super foods that are available in the market is half the work done. But, the other half is to know how to reap the benefits of these nutritious foods. For example, if you slice your strawberries, avoid eating ripe fruit or overcook your broccoli, you’re missing out on vital nutrients and you may end up consuming more calories than you bargained for. Here are a few healthy foods that you may be eating wrong, followed by the right way to eat them.
Beans are inexpensive, low in fat and high in protein and fibre, so they are an unsurprisingly healthy addition to your diet. What’s the problem, you ask? Most beans come in cans that are lined with the chemical BPA. Too much exposure to this chemical has been linked to the onset of cancer, heart disease and early puberty. Canned beans are also high in sodium, so it’s best to soak and boil beans fresh from the market.
Dried fruits are best for a quick nibble or for when you want to satisfy a sugar craving. However, make sure that they are not coated with sugar. It’s usually easy to identify these and avoid picking them up, but if you can’t tell, we suggest checking the packet before you buy it.
Apples & pears
Apples and pears are the perfect snack because they contain dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals. However, most of the vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A and C, calcium, potassium, folate and iron are found in the peel, so if you’re used to eating your fruit without the skin, you may be peeling off the nutrients as well. It’s also important to not bite into them before they’re ripe.
Broccoli isn’t a favourite, let alone something that people are able to stomach raw. You would normally enjoy these florets cooked with a sprinkling of salt and pepper at the very least. Although boiling broccoli may be the traditional way to cook it, this zaps its nutritional value. Consider sautéing or steaming it instead to slightly soften the stems before eating.
Strawberries are great sources of the immunity boosting vitamin C, with one serving containing about 51.5mg, which is almost half your daily requirement. However, slicing your strawberries means that you won’t receive as much of their vitamin content as you could. Whole strawberries contain more vitamin than sliced ones, as they lose their vitamin content when they are exposed to light and air. To get as many nutritional benefits as you possibly can, store the strawberries in the fridge, as cool temperatures help them to retain their vitamin content.
You know that watery substance that you find layered over your yoghurt, which you’re so quick to pour into the sink? That’s whey and it contains protein and vitamin B12, along with minerals such as calcium and phosphorus. So, the next time you peel open a box, rather than dumping it out, give your yoghurt a quick stir in order to reap all the benefits.
You can’t ignore the burst of flavour that fresh, ripe tomatoes bring to salads, sandwiches and other dishes. You won’t be able to receive all the nutrition unless they are cooked though. So, if you want to absorb their lycopene — the phytonutrient responsible for the fruit’s cancer and heart disease-fighting properties — follow advice from researchers at Cornell University, who found that the antioxidant content increases when they’re heated to around 87°C.
Although milk and tea go hand in hand, this pairing needs a little intervention. When you add milk to your teacup, you instantly take away the heart-protecting benefits of the tea you’re drinking. This is because the milk proteins (called caseins) decrease a compound in tea called catechins, which are responsible for boosting protection against heart disease. The best way to enjoy your tea and reap its benefits is by adding a dash of lemon or having it black.
If you’re always chopping, crushing or mincing garlic seconds before throwing it into a hot pan, you’re doing things wrong. What happens here, is that alliin and the enzyme alliinase that help catalyse the health promoting compound of garlic, are physically separated and only come into contact once the garlic is crushed. If you apply heat to the garlic immediately after crushing it, there’s not enough time for this reaction to take place. We suggest waiting for at least five to ten minutes after crushing your garlic before cooking it.
High in vitamin A, sweet potatoes are bursting with anti-oxidants and are anti-inflammatory. However, if you think that munching on sweet potato fries also gives you the health benefits, you’re mistaken. Frying adds a ton of fats and calories to the healthiest foods. Boiling is a good method, but remember not to mash the sweet potatoes with butter or brown sugar. Instead, steaming diced chunks or baking the potato whole is your best bet.