Fat too? This should include the health food basket

So far, we all know that there are certain foods that are healthier than others. However, when we start a business and try to follow a varied and balanced diet, it is not easy to understand which foods to choose or how to combine them to achieve the greatest nutritional benefits.

In the following lines we will try to detail in a practical way which ones are the foods with the most useful nutritional profile within the different food groups and, as far as possiblehow to replace less healthy with healthier, as we detail in our guide How to make your meals healthier.

Despite its bad reputation, fats are a major food group have a proper diet.

The best oil is superior to extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), as it is attributed to health properties due to its high content of monounsaturated fats and other healthy compounds such as carotenoids and polyphenols, which have antioxidant properties. Consumption of this fat is associated with a lower risk of suffering from certain pathologies such as cardiovascular disease.

On the contrary, other common options such as sunflower oil, butter or margarine have less monounsaturated fatty acids and more polyunsaturated or saturated fatty acids, thus degrading the quality of fats. Therefore, if you are not buying EVOO, the best options to resort to would be raw olive oil or high oleic sunflower oil (monounsaturated).

Another group with an interesting lipid profile is that of dried fruits. Although they are also high-calorie foods, and therefore we must adjust to the recommended intake (between 3 and 7 servings per week of 20-30 grams), the type of fat they provide are of good quality. They are also rich in fiber and minerals, which is why they are associated with a positive effect on health.

Among the available options, priority should be given to raw or roasted nuts, not fried and without any other ingredient (sugar or salt). In case we consume them in the form of cream, we must make sure that they do not contain refined oils and added sugars, looking at the label.

Olive oil should be included in the diet Pexels

On the other hand, cereals are one of the most common food groups in meals. However, not all cereals are created equal. There are two main types: integralsor whole grain and refined, from which the bran and germ are removed. While consumption of the former is associated with a reduced risk of suffering from diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease and cancer, among others, long-term consumption of the latter is associated with reduced insulin sensitivity.

The beneficial effect of whole grains lies mainly in their high content of various types of fiber, resistant starch (which acts as fiber), vitamins and minerals, the latter two are present mainly in the embryo. Some of these beneficial nutrients are partially or completely lost during refining, which makes refined grains less nutritious food.

Since the consumption of fiber is associated with health benefits such as those mentioned above, it is convenient to include other foods that also contain them in our recipes. Fruits and vegetables, at the base of the food pyramid, are a great source of fiber (except high in vitamins and minerals).. In addition, they are presented as universal ingredients that can be used in both sweet and savory recipes.

As for meat, although it is true that it contains saturated fats and cholesterol, it provides us with proteins of high biological value and a large amount of vitamins and minerals. Above all, his contribution to iron is interesting. However, whether for animal welfare, sustainability or health reasons, it is possible to replace these products of animal origin with others of plant origin, which are a good source of protein and high in fiber. These include tofu made from soybeans or seitan made from gluten (a protein present in many cereals such as wheat).

A varied diet with all the necessary proteins is essential for improving health
A varied diet with all the necessary proteins is essential for improving health GETTY IMAGES

In recent years, too tempeh, a product of Indonesian origin made from fermented legumes, has become very popular. Less well known in our country, although very popular in the United Kingdom, are products made from the protein known on the market as quorn, obtained from the fermentation of mushrooms.

Another option to consider is to replace the minced meat, which we can use to make hamburgers or other dishes with textured soy or based on other legumes. In fact, the latter, in addition to being an interesting source of plant protein, provide fiber, vitamins and minerals.

This text is reproduced by The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

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