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Store cupboard superfoods
So, this week I thought I’d take a break from the food villains and bring a cheerful note to proceedings by telling you about the amazing health benefits of some of our most taken-for-granted foods.
Ever looked in the health pages of the newspapers and seen them touting the latest superfood?
Pomegranate juice, acai berries, blueberries, bitter dark chocolate: every week something else comes out that’s supposed to extend your lifespan and make you feel like a 20-year-old again.
However a lot of these foods are expensive and out of reach for many of us during this belt-tightening time.
So it might surprise you to know that some of our oldest-loved foods are also superfoods, just without the media spotlight.
The first one is eggs, which used to be the basis of many a British breakfast (remember ‘Go to work on an egg’?), but has, since the 1980s, fallen out of fashion, except in baking.
Eggs are an incredible storehouse of nutrients: choline helps the liver and brain cells to function; cholesterol insulates nerves and protects against MS, dementia and other degenerative conditions; vitamins A and D help us absorb minerals and play a crucial role in immune defence, and zinc and B12 nourish our skin, release energy from food and make essential hormones.
Past cases of mine whose children demonstrated behavioural problems at school, reported that these same children quickly became happier and more receptive after switching their breakfast from sugary cereal to eggs and buttered toast.
Just the sort of breakfast we used to eat for many generations before ADHD, allergies and asthma started to affect children so widely.
No surprise then, that butter is second on the list! Butter is mainly saturated fat, and whilst this has prompted industry and government experts to get us to switch to vegetable oil spreads, they are doing the public a grave disservice.
Trawl through the studies and it transpires that saturated fat can improve HDL, the so-called good cholesterol.
Saturated fat is also essential to absorb minerals such as calcium, for strong bones, as well as important fat-soluble vitamins, including Vitamin K2, which also makes sure calcium stays in our bones and teeth, rather than the soft tissues or arteries (which can lead to heart disease).
Butter is high in K2. It also contains CLA, a powerful anti-cancer compound, which has demonstrated tumour-suppressing effects in breast, colon and skin tissue.
On a more superficial note, CLA has also shown benefits in aiding the conversion of body fat into lean muscle mass - another illustration that in the context of a lower-carbohydrate diet, saturated fat can actually help you lose weight!
Finally, if you do start to incorporate more of these nourishing foods, try to get them from animals who have been allowed to roam on pasture, ie. ‘free range’ or ‘organic’.
These are higher in active nutrients as well as lower in the pro-inflammatory plant fat omega-6 that I talked about in the last post.
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