So what are health foods? They should be those foods that contain essential vitamins and nutrients that we need for every day healthy living. Creating optimal health through nutrition and health foods is basically a two-fold approach. It is a matter of stopping unhealthy behaviour and increasing healthy behaviour. This combination of protecting ourselves against the onset of disease by avoiding the nutritional pitfalls that contribute to its development and increasing our intake of nutritious, whole health foods is another step towards better health.
Go Organic. Whenever possible choose organically grown foods and avoid the health risks associated with the use of toxic sprays. By buying organically grown health foods you will also be avoiding the health risks associated with the agricultural use of hormones, antibiotics and pesticides.
Eat a wide variety of unrefined whole health foods. Choose from a selection of whole grains, beans, legumes, soy foods, cultured yoghurt, fresh fruits and vegetables.
Sources of Essential Nutrients
A wide variety of natural health foods is the basis of a healthy balanced diet. Vegetables. Low in fat and high in fibre, raw vegetables are teeming with thousands of nutrients called phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are a determing factor in the colour and flavour of vegetables. They act as the plant's natural immune system warding off disease and viruses.
Yoghurt, containing lactic-acid bacteria, is one of nature's most healing health foods
. The friendly bacterial culture in yoghurt makes it more easily digested than milk and it can sometimes even be taken by those with lactose intolerance. It is an excellent source of protein and vitamin B12. When eaten regularly, yoghurt encourages the colonization of friendly bacteria in the intestinal tract, preventing yeast-related problems and strengthening the immune system.
Whole grains have been the basis of the human diet for thousands of years. Grains are an excellent source of trace minerals, fibre, unsaturated fatty acids, lecithin, vitamin E, B-complex vitamins and complex carbohydrates.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are tasty, versatile health foods that nourish the brain, nerves and skin. Edible nuts include walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, pecans, pinenuts, cashews and coconuts. The seed family include sunflower seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds. Nuts and seeds have a higher content of complete protein than all other plants, with the exception of soy bean.
Fruits and Berries
Fresh fruits and berries are a delight to the taste buds, and a rich source of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, fibre, vitamin C and beta-carotene. Include at least two servings each day of these truly wonderful health foods.
The power of nutrients to prevent and cure disease is being researched around the world. Nutritional researchers are identifying and studying thousands of enzymes and phytonutrients they never knew existed in health food. They have discovered that lutein, a carotene found in kale, prevents age-related macular degeneration, a disease that can cause permanent blindness.
Plants have developed their own protective substances called phytochemicals (from phyton) the Greek term for plant. Mounting research shows that many phytochemicals also protect humans against diseases.Understanding the impact of our food choices, what we eat and drink, are two of the most important steps we can take along the road to optimal health.