SALMON: “Salmon is rich in omega-3, a type of fatty acid essential for many functions in the body. Omega-3 is linked with increased gut bacteria diversity and microbes that produce compounds called short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). It is these SCFAs that are thought to play a role in protecting us against things like bowel cancer, type 2 diabetes and depression. I love a salmon fillet with a miso glaze, wrapped in foil and baked in the oven, served with mixed vegetables and grains.”
LIVE YOGHURT: “Not only does live yoghurt contain beneficial lactic acid bacteria, it also provides 25% of most people’s daily calcium needs, which is incredibly important for our bone health. Yoghurt has been linked with more health benefits, including weight management, compared to unfermented dairy products, such as milk. Try adding a dollop to curries, or frozen into ice-cream sticks.”
POTATOES: “With the skin on, a medium baked potato contains 4g of fibre, which is essentially food for your good bacteria. Cooked and cooled potatoes (think potato salad) also contain resistant starch, which your gut microbes love to feast on, producing those beneficial SCFAs. They’re also a good source of potassium, vitamin C and vitamin B6. Plus, they’re long-lasting, versatile, widely accessible and cost-effective.”
WHOLEGRAIN SOURDOUGH: “Fibre from wholegrains is beneficial not just good for gut health but has also been linked to a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and several cancers, including breast cancer and colon cancer. The fermentation process for sourdough has also been shown in one study to lower the blood-sugar response compared to non-sourdough bread, and may also increase the availability of some nutrients, such as zinc, for our body to absorb."
EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL: “Loaded with beneficial plant chemicals (polyphenols and other phytochemicals), several studies suggest broad-ranging health benefits, including for our heart, brain and gut health. Research shows high-quality extra virgin olive oil is more stable in home cooking (around 180°C) than other oils, such as sunflower, canola and coconut oil, thanks to its high-antioxidant levels.
BLACKBERRIES: “Although blueberries tend to steal all the attention, blackberries tend to have a more impressive nutritional profile, containing more vitamins and minerals, fibre and even tend to be higher in the all-important antioxidants. Try adding some blackberries to your smoothies, overnight oats or porridge.”
BROCCOLI SPROUTS: “Broccoli sprouts are germinated broccoli seeds, which boast a really impressive nutritional profile. These little sprouts have shown in studies to contain more phytonutrients (powerful plant chemicals which offer benefit to humans) than the mature broccoli heads, which are brilliant for helping the body's detoxification pathways and balancing hormones. Studies also show sprouts have better absorption rates compared to usual broccoli. Adding some broccoli sprouts to salads and soups as a topper is a great way to pack in the nutrients.”
CHIA SEEDS: “These mighty seeds are a fantastic source of fibre and can help to form a gel within the digestive system, which helps soften stools and regulate consistency. They are also a source of iron, magnesium and are one of the few plant-based sources of omega 3 fatty acids. Chia seeds swell to absorb liquid, so can be added into smoothies, soups, porridge and overnight oats, or sprinkled on more savoury dishes such as salads."
COCOA POWDER: “Cocoa powder is packed full of nutrients and is a rich source of magnesium, a nutrient required by over 300 processes in the body and is often used up during times of stress. It also contains some phytonutrients, namely flavanols. Try adding a teaspoon of cocoa powder to your coffee or make a refreshing iced cocoa drink by adding some milk, ice and water.”
WALNUTS: “Walnuts are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which are fantastic for brain function, heart health and contain anti-inflammatory properties. Walnuts are great to snack on with some dried fruit or a cube or two of dark chocolate, or can be added to salads or form part of a crusted salmon dish when crushed.”
CHICKPEAS: “Chickpeas are a great source of folate and magnesium and can increase levels of butyrate, a compound produced in the gut that can moderate inflammation. Cook from fresh to improve digestibility and try mashing with olive oil and sea salt as an alternative to potatoes or add to salad for an additional source of protein.”
RHUBARB: “Rhubarb is rich in immune-supporting antioxidants including vitamin C, polyphenols and carotenoids. Gently stew or bake in a low heat with a small amount of orange juice and spices such as cinnamon or ginger to enhance the antioxidant properties. Use spring harvested rhubarb rather than autumn varieties for higher antioxidant properties.”
WILD ROCKET: “Rocket is rich in phytochemicals including indoles, sulforaphane and DIM, which have been shown to support hormone balance and provide immune moderating and antimicrobial properties.”
BROAD BEANS: “Broad beans are an excellent source of protein and fibre. They also contain phytochemicals such as beta sitosterol and levo-dopamine which contribute to balanced cholesterol and mood.”
BEETROOT: “Beetroot is one of my all-time favourites. Beetroots possess a unique array of antioxidant compounds that make them a potent anti-inflammatory food. In fact, at a cellular level, their compounds work at managing inflammation using the same mode of action as ibuprofen.”
ASPARAGUS: “A terrific prebiotic food, which means its fibres provide excellent fuel for the microbiome. This is ultimately great for whole-body health, as the microbiome supports a healthy and robust immune system, good mental health and balanced hormones.”
OLIVES: “These small but powerful fruits contain a wonderful composition of health-supportive antioxidants. Perhaps the best studied is oleuropein, which is exclusively found in olives. Consuming oleuropein has been shown to decrease the oxidation (or damaging) of LDL cholesterol.”
*Features published by SheerLuxe are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programmes.