All nuts are packed with vitamins, minerals and fibre, but Brazil nuts are also one of the few good sources of selenium, a mineral and micronutrient which helps to maintain a healthy immune system and can help protect against heart disease and cancers. The heart-healthy ‘good’ fats in nuts help to lower bad cholesterol levels, but be wary: they can be high in calories if you nibble too many.
Upping your exercise and activity levels can make you more hungry so it’s important to choose snack foods that pack in nutrients and curb hunger pangs. Nuts fill you up far better than other snack foods so are a wise choice to beat the 4pm snack attack.
Add to homemade cereal…
Blueberries earned their ‘superfood’ status a few years ago, thanks to their high level of free-radical-beating antioxidants. Free radicals are thought to travel around your body damaging cells, causing disease, and triggering signs of premature aging. Berries are often lower in calories than other fruits, too.
Like dried fruit, fresh fruit is also good to eat during and after exercise since it contains high GI carbohydrate-packed sugars, which provide energy to muscles in the quickest way possible. Frozen blueberries (often far cheaper than fresh in the supermarket) are brilliant when whizzed up into a post-exercise smoothie to replenish your muscles’ glycogen (energy) stores.
Salmon is a good source of Omega 3, a fatty acid that’s believed to keep your heart healthy and slow down the effects of memory loss.
Pick protein for the perfect post-exercise meal. Protein rebuilds and repairs muscles so is the nutrient to fill up on after a workout. Protein-packed salmon is a great choice, as well as eggs and lean meats.
Cocoa is especially nutritious, rich in magnesium, antioxidants and amino acids. To get the full benefit you need to get as close to the whole bean as possible. Cocoa nibs or powder are best – sprinkle on yoghurt, fruit or add to granola.
One of the best things about doing regular exercise is that it allows you a little more leeway when it comes to naughty foods. And there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself every now and again, is there? If you’re after a sweet fix, pick dark chocolate over cake or other calorie-laden foods to get all the nutritional benefits of cocoa with less added sugar. The higher the cocoa content, the better – look out for bars containing 70% and over.
Low-fat dessert idea…