Traversing the minefield that is 'eating like a healthy person' can be confusing stuff: it seems like everytime you think something is good for you, someone tells you it's bad. Over here at The Urban List, we decided it was high time for a definitive guide to all the healthy foods you need in your life—from A to Z. Literally.
So here's our A to Z of health foods... and make sure you throw a cheat day in there too, once in a while. Everyone needs cake in their life!
A is for Avocado - There’s something suspicious about anyone who’d have chosen something other than Avocado for A. I mean, who turns down a smashed avo? This super fruit has over 20 different types of nutrients and vitamins and is full of valuable good fats—and did you know that an avocado contains more potassium than a banana? A simple breakfast of 1/2 an avo on toast and you’re off to a good start.
B is for Broccoli - Forget all those fancy ‘superfoods’ and let’s strip it right back: this is one of the most nutritiously dense vegetables out there. It’s full of health boosting properties—who’d have known all these years and you’ve been enjoying the real superfood champion? Roast it, add to a stir fry, enjoy raw with a homemade dip or even add some to your morning smoothie for a creamy boost of nutrients and antioxidants.
C is for Coconut - 2016 is the year of the coconut. I’m talking oils, milks, butters, water, coconut errythang! Coconut products should be one of your health shop essentials—and I dare you to find a more versatile entry on this list. Cook with it, or moisturise, bake, make your own hair mask and more—the options are almost as big as the benefits.
D is for Dates - Because what’s a healthy lifestyle without a pack of these in your cupboard ready and waiting to sweeten up your smoothie? Use them to add a natural sweetness and a thickness to recipes. For all you die-hard exercisers, dates are one of the best ingredients to eat for muscle development. Use them to make a Peanut Butter Protein ball: dates, peanuts, coconut oil and protein powder, blitz together and roll.
E is for Eggs - Did you know there is only one thing on the planet that is more complete as a food and more powerful for us to eat than eggs? Any ideas? It's actually breast milk. Eggs contain every single amino acid our bodies need. They are also one of the best forms of protein—which is crucial for after a good workout.
F is for Flaxseed - Hailed for firing up our metabolisms, these little seeds burn body fat, are full of fibre and high in omega 3's, so if you’re vegetarian or not eating enough oily fish these are a great alternative. They are also rich in antioxidants. Looking for some new health foods to add into your diet? This is a good place to start.
G is for Garlic - It’s the same story with cheese—no one ever uses enough garlic in recipes, you lightweights. For years and years garlic has been used for its powerful health and medicinal properties. Calorie for calorie it’s actually incredibly nutritious—in fact, it pretty much contains everything our bodies need and is known to boost the immune systems and soothe colds. Just in time for winter!
H is for Honey - Who’s got some of this in their cupboard right now? And if you haven’t, what is wrong with you?! This healthy natural sweetener offers a variety of different benefits: its anti-inflammatory effects and ability to soothe coughs means it acts like a natural vaccine, and it is also an excellent source of a natural energy.
I is for Iceberg Lettuce - Be honest, you’ve neglected this one since kale hit the scene—and at a push you’ll settle for spinach, but who really buys lettuce anymore? Poor neglected Iceberg lettuce... well you might begin to regret abandoning it, since it’s made up of 90% water—so if you’re after a calorie conscious option, then this one’s for you. It’s also rich in fibre, meaning you’ll get full quicker without the worry of high cal content.
J is for Jalapeno Peppers - These fiery beasts are rich in capacin, ever heard of it? Nah neither had we—it’s a compound that speeds up the metabolism and suppresses appetite, so you’re going to be pretty glad to meet this one. They even contain more than a days’ worth of vitamin C, which is essential for tissue repair when we are exercising. Slice and add to your smashed avo for a spicy dip.
K is for Kale - Just in case you’ve been hiding under a rock and missed the kale-craze, this one’s a bit of a health god. So, where to start? It is one of the most nutritiously dense foods out there (after broccoli), rich in antioxidant nutrients, anti-inflammatory nutrients, and anti-cancerous nutrients. What a superstar.
L is for Lemons - Detoxing the body long before wheatgrass shots and juice bars came into power, was the little ol' lemon. Starting your morning with a glass of hot water and half a lemon is a surefire way to kick start your immune systems and aid digestion for the day. The health properties of lemon makes it one of the most essential foods for a healthy lifestyle—and did you know they also contain pectin, a fibre that helps hold off hunger creating a feeling of fullness? Hand me that lemony water immediately.
M is for Mint - Not just for the Mojitos people (although that’s a great place to start), this herb has been used for hundreds of years for its medicinal benefits. Feeling sick? Mint is great for helping digestion and nausea, and its naturally soothing properties help aid inflammation and even headaches. It’s also a natural stimulant—so try adding some to your morning smoothie for an extra burst of energy.
N is for Nori - It’s only fair considering how many sushi rolls Australia goes through in a week that there’s some type of health benefit to be enjoyed here. Did you know that seaweed has a high protein and mineral content, and actually contains more Vitamin C than orange?
O is for Oats - They’re like the OG of health foods. An oldie but a goodie, who didn’t grow up on porridge? Now it’s all about who can outdo who with the porridge dishes, with more elaborately planned toppings on your breakfast than you used to put on your pizza. Eating a bowl of this is one of the healthiest breakfasts you could go for, ideal for releasing slow burning energy and filling up on nutrients.
P is for Peas - You’ve got to give them credit, they’ve really earnt it—who didn’t hate these when they were younger? Years of being flicked off plates and ignored until finally all that groundwork paid off... and hello recognition! These green spheres are little powerhouses of a surprisingly big amount of nutrients, who’d have known? Rich in various vitamins and low in calories, next Sunday make sure you grab some smashed peas & mint on toast—you’re welcome.
Q is for Quinoa - What a beauty of a super grain! This is the most protein rich grain we can eat, and with 9 essential amino acids it's useful as well as tasty. Swap rice for quinoa for a lighter alternative, or as a key player in your next salad. Warm quinoa and roasted vegetable salad? That’ll be lunch sorted then.
R is for Rice Flour - Gluten free-ers this one’s for you: thank god for rice flour. Finally, we can enjoy all those foods and recipes we’ve been missing out on all this time, and drooling over on Instagram. Substitute for normal flour in recipes and you’ve no excuse to not be baking / making pancakes daily. It’s even high in protein and fibre—so even more reason to use it!
S is for Sweet Potato - Here’s a good'un, one of the most versatile and antioxidant-inducing veggies out there. It even has a lower GI than pumpkin and normal potatoes. Three words: Sweet. Potato. Fries.
T is for Tahini - Anyone else going through a major tahini obsession right now? This is the thick spread made from ground sesame seed, and it is incredible to cook with. Eating it on its own is probably not so amazing—but use it in recipes for a creamier, nuttier flavour. It’s also a great way to get your calcium if you don’t eat dairy.
U is for Uvas - Or as we like to call them in English, ‘Grapes’. (Hey, you try finding a superfood beginning with U.) But these are definitely worthy of a place on the list, single handedly proving that it’s not the size that counts. Grapes are bursting with powerful antioxidants including polyphenols, which are known to slow down and prevent many types of cancer. Pop your grapes in the freezer for a quick and healthy snack.
V is for Vegetable Pasta - Do you even remember a life before courgetti came in and replaced your usual bowl of pasta? No, me neither—but thank god it did. A bowl of vegetable noodles is a much healthier alternative, as most vegetables are made up of high levels of water, are lower in calories, and deliver an extra dose of nutrients and dietary fibre to your diet.
W is for Wasabi - It might have a ridiculously strong flavour that’ll bring you to tears, but it’s worth the pain—what, with all their antioxidant detoxifying qualities. Wasabi paste is surprisingly packed full of powerful health benefits, so now you’ve got even more reason to grab a quick sushi roll and an extra serve of wasabi on your next lunch break.
X is for Xigua - Otherwise known as the watermelon. Bet you didn’t think we’d manage to nail this letter, did you? Watermelons are a great food to include into your diet: they’re low in calories (only 86 calories per slice), and a good source of Vitamin C, which acts as an antioxidant helping prevent cell damage and disease. Ever had a watermelon shake in Bali? Thank me later.
Y is for Yam - Not to be confused with sweet potatoes. This easily forgotten superfood can be eaten without negatively affecting blood sugar levels, which makes it a great food to eat for sustained energy. It’s also a great source of fibre, vitamin B6 and potassium.
Z is for Zucchini - As a Brit, it pains me to call a courgette a zucchini—but when your 'z' options are running pretty slim, you make do with what you can. Zucchinis are made up of 95% water, so safe to say they’re a good low calorie food—and they even give you the feeling of being full, so they're a great way to suppress your appetite without eating dangerous added calories.
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Photo credit: Simple Organic Life