15 foods for optimal health

Updated: Jun 16


If you had to choose 15 foods to eat for the rest of your life what would they be?


Food choices for life


It’s increasingly clear that processed “food” is causing significant harm to our health, with obesity, autoimmune disease, psychiatric disorders and cancers rising almost exponentially since the 1970s. We have become a desperate and vulnerable society, increasingly bombarded with fad diets that promise to cure, heal, trim, rip or shred. Many of them do more harm than good.


Everyone is different and no diet fits all, so listening to your body is the key.


Deep down, most people know what foods don’t work for them, but they keep going back for more. This is because food is designed to keep us in this cycle, and this is why eating junk food is the norm while healthy eating is a cause for concern. If you’ve ever been the one to order a healthy meal while your friends were eating burgers and chips, you more than likely had to justify your healthy choice, assure your friends that you’re not starving yourself and then feel like you’re an outcast during the entire meal….And, you likely dread these outings or avoid them altogether.


These issues aren’t going away any time soon, so the only thing you can do is forget about what everyone else is doing and save yourself!!


Be sensible and make small steps. Replacing processed foods with vegetables, fruit, fish and healthy fats is undeniably the first step towards a healthier life.


This is the first food list in our blog, and it’s intended to just give you some ideas to get started.


The foods chosen for this list needed to meet certain criteria to ensure a wide range of health benefits. The criteria are:


  • It must be high in either antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, essential amino-acids, prebiotics or omega-3 fatty acids. These are necessary for the healthy function of various cellular processes.

  • The food must be in a natural form as any type of processing can alter the nutritional value of the food.

  • It must be easy to obtain – there’s no point adding some obscure plant food that only grows in the amazon!

  • It can’t be addictive as that defeats the purpose of attaining full health. Addictive food can lead to a range of health problems such as mood disorders and over-eating. Sorry, no coffee, wine or chocolate in this list!

  • The food must be easily tolerated and unlikely to cause intolerances or inflammation. While everyone has a different tolerance level to foods, there are some that are more likely than others to cause problems if eaten regularly. Such foods include nuts, eggs, dairy, shellfish and gluten.


The Top 15 Foods are:


For their antioxidants, vitamins and minerals:




1. Blueberries are rich in fibre, antioxidants and nutrients including Vitamin C, K, B6, copper, potassium, folate and manganese.


Blueberries are thought to:

  • Promote a healthy immune system aiding in weight loss, digestion and gut health.

  • Increase metabolism.

  • Reduce inflammation.

  • Protect against and aging.

  • Lower cholesterol and blood pressure.

  • Improve brain function and memory.


2. Broccoli is high in fibre, antioxidants and nutrients including Vitamin C, A, K, selenium, potassium, folate and phosphorus.


Broccoli is believed to:

  • Promote a healthy immune system aiding in weight loss, digestion and gut health.

  • Increase metabolism.

  • Reduce inflammation.

  • Protect against certain types of cancer

  • Consist of anti-aging properties.

  • Support heart health.

  • Improve brain function and memory.


3. Kale is packed full of nutrients including Vitamin C, A, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper calcium and phosphorus. It is high in fibre and contains plant based Omega-3 fatty acids.


Kale is believed to:

  • Promote a healthy immune system aiding in weight loss, digestion and gut health.

  • Boost metabolism.

  • Reduce inflammation.

  • Protect against certain types of cancer

  • Benefit anti-aging and bone health.

  • Support heart health by reducing the likelihood of stroke and heart attacks.

  • Preserve eye health.



4. Carrots are a low GI vegetable rich in fibre, minerals and vitamins including Vitamin A, which aids in the prevention of vision loss. There are many different varieties available such as purple and yellow carrots, providing a range of health benefits.


Carrots are thought to:

  • Promote a healthy immune system aiding in weight loss, digestion and gut health.

  • Boost metabolism.

  • Reduce inflammation.

  • Protect against certain types of cancer and diabetes.

  • Provide cardiovascular benefits.

  • Enhance eye health.



5. Fresh herbs such as coriander, mint, basil, ginger and turmeric are highly nutritious and beneficial to our health. They contain an abundance of phytochemicals called polyphenols that may help to reduce damage to your body’s cells.


Herbs are believed to:

  • Promote a healthy immune system aiding in weight loss, digestion and gut health.

  • Boost metabolism.

  • Reduce inflammation and fight infections.

  • Consist of anti-aging properties.

  • Protect against certain types of cancer and diabetes.

  • Support heart health.



6. Papaya is a fruit high in fibre and Vitamin C. It contains a powerful antioxidant called lycopene that has many health benefits including:


  • Aiding in weight loss.

  • Boosting your immunity and metabolism

  • Improving heart health and digestion.

  • Lowering risk of certain cancers.

  • Improving eye health

  • Protecting against arthritis and diabetes



7. Lemons are a rich source of Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant. They are believed to provide many health benefits including:

  • Help control weight.

  • Boost your immune system.

  • Improve digestive and skin health

  • Increase iron absorption

  • Lower risk of certain cancers.

  • Improve heart health

  • Prevent asthma


For their healthy fats:




8. Salmon is a favourable source of protein and essential amino acid, rich in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B12 as well as choline and selenium.

It is believed to:

  • Improve heart health and brain function.

  • Benefit weight control.

  • Boost your immune system and metabolism.

  • Reduces inflammation and the risk of chronic diseases.

  • Promote bone health.



9. Avocados are high in fibre and a good source of healthy monounsaturated fats. They are rich in nutrients, vitamins and minerals, containing organic compounds such as carotenoids, phytosterols and flavonoids.


The health benefits of Avocados include:

  • Aid in weight management.

  • Improve digestion and metabolism.

  • Protects the skin from signs of aging.

  • Boost heart health and your immune system.

  • Enhance liver and eye health.



10. Flaxseeds are one of the richest plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids. They are loaded with nutrients and antioxidants.


The health benefits include:

  • Boost your immune system and metabolism.

  • Aid in weight control and digestive health.

  • Anti-inflammatory properties.

  • Improve skin and hair health.

  • Reduce risk of heart disease and certain cancers.



11. Coconuts are a very versatile food, besides the edible flesh, they contain water and milk as well as oil can be extracted from it. Rich in nutrients, vitamins and minerals.


The health benefits include:

  • Promotes weight loss and digestive health.

  • Boost your immune system and metabolism.

  • Improve skin and hair health.

  • Reduce risk of heart disease.

  • Reduce inflammation and fight infections.

  • Protect against certain types of cancer and diabetes.


For their prebiotics:




12. The Onion family includes onions, garlic, leeks, chives, shallots, spring onions and scallions. A good source of fibre, they are high in Vitamin C, contain no fat and are low in sodium.


They are packed with nutrients and antioxidants believed to:

  • Improve digestive and heart health.

  • Contain antibacterial properties and cancer-fighting compounds.

  • Reduce inflammation and fight infections.

  • Improve skin and hair health.

  • Boost your immune system and bone density.


(Yes, we know this isn’t strictly ONE food, but you can take your pick from the onion family!)


13. Asparagus is a spring vegetable only eaten when it is a young shoot. It is low in sodium, rich in fibre, full of essential nutrients and a natural diuretic due to the high levels of the amino acid asparagine it contains.


Health benefits include:

  • Strengthens immune system and boosts metabolism.

  • Aids weight loss and digestion.

  • Improves brain function, bone and heart health.

  • Reduce inflammation and fight infections.

  • Protect against certain types of cancer and diabetes.



14. Legumes are a good source of antioxidants and fibre. They are high in protein and essential amino acids, B-group vitamins as well as calcium, iron, zinc, phosphorous and magnesium.


Health benefits include:

  • Controls appetite.

  • Boosts your immunity and metabolism.

  • Improves digestion, eye and heart health.

  • Lowers risk of certain cancers.

  • Protects against diabetes and prevents fatty liver.


15. Green banana is an unripe banana. They are rich in potassium and contain Vitamin C, Vitamin B6 and calcium as well as short-chain fatty acid producing fibre.


Health benefits include:

  • Promotes gut and digestive health

  • Aid weight loss

  • Ensure digestive and heart health

  • Improve blood pressure levels and kidney function.

  • Protect against diabetes


Here’s an example of a healthy and delicious meal plan created strictly from the list above:


Breakfast:

Fruit salad (blueberries, green banana, papaya) on blended coconut, topped with mint leaves and flaxseeds


Lunch:

Salad made of kale, carrots, red onion, chickpeas, grilled green bananas and flaxseeds with a dressing of lemon juice, avocado and blended fresh herbs (e.g. coriander, mint, basil)


Dinner:

Baked salmon with sautéed leek, broccoli, asparagus, turmeric, garlic and ginger, served with lentils.


Eating a variety of healthy, clean foods is important – and as you can see, a short list of foods can provide a surprisingly varied diet!

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