Benefits: Lowers blood pressure and increases energy levels
Research on beetroot and beetroot juice shows there is more to this vegetable than adding colour to a salad or zing to a burger. Beetroot is one of the richest plant sources of nitrate, at 250mg per 100g. Nitrates are converted to nitric oxide in the body and may help lower blood pressure and improve blood flow and oxygen uptake. People who drink beetroot juice are able to work more efficiently when exercising and, on average, can train 15 per cent harder and longer, according to a study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology. Beetroot can also help prevent heart, eye and kidney disease, which is common in people with diabetes.
Tip: Juice beetroot with apple and mint or a combination of carrot, ginger and fresh lime juice. Stick to a small glass every day if you’re watching your weight, and monitor your blood sugars. Add roasted beetroot to salads.
Benefits: Manage weight and help stabilise blood glucose levels
Rich in nutrients and antioxidants, legumes are an ideal choice for your supermarket trolley. In a major US-based population study, regular consumption of legumes was linked with a lower BMI (body mass index), 23 per cent reduced risk of increased waist size and 22 per cent reduced risk of obesity, compared to those who didn’t eat legumes. Also known as pulses, they have an impressive low-GI power to keep blood glucose levels in check.
Tip: Use chickpeas, four-bean mix, lentils or other legumes to bulk up salads – they’re bursting with protein and fibre, and taste great!
Benefits: Boost immunity and inner health
Get a daily dose of culture! Often referred to as friendly bacteria, probiotics provide genuine health benefits as a result of their presence in the gastrointestinal tract. The secret lies in their ability to increase the numbers of good bacteria while reducing and inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria. Typically obtained from yoghurt, you’ll also find probiotics in certain juices, fermented foods such as sauerkraut, and in supplement form. Clinical trials, using a probiotic combination (Probi Defendum) in juice, showed that regular consumption may significantly reduce the number of episodes, severity of symptoms and duration of the common cold.
Tip: Look for a product that contains at least one billion cultures (one billion cfu or active cultures).
Benefits: Boosts energy and concentration
With less than two per cent fat content and bursting with beneficial iron and zinc, kangaroo fillets are a smart ‘gourmet game’ addition to your weekly menu. Iron is essential for the production of haemoglobin, which carries oxygen around the body. Low iron levels can also cause fatigue, poor concentration, irritability and more frequent infections. Australian studies have suggested that iron deficiency may affect over 10 per cent of women aged 25-50, and a study by the University of Sydney indicates that this percentage may be higher for women who are overweight.
Tip: Aim for 3-4 servings of lean red meat each week. If you’re feeling consistently fatigued, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about a simple blood test to check your iron levels.
Benefits: Lowers risk of certain cancers, assists fertility and improves eye health
Roll over spinach! Kale is loved by foodies for its versatility and unique flavour, and the bonus is this traditional vegie is packed with nutrients. Part of the brassica family, along with brussels sprouts and cabbage, kale is rich in sulphur- containing phytonutrients with anti-cancer properties. It’s also a great source of folate, which is vital for healthy pregnancy, and rich in lutein and zeaxanthin compounds, which help protect eye health.
Tip: Add kale to salads, sauté as a side or spray lightly with olive oil and crisp in a hot oven for 5-10 minutes.