Healthy diet, healthy you

Eating a healthy diet can help prevent illness. Shown below are foods that can strengthen the immune system, fight free radicals and protect your heart.

Berries and leavesThe key nutrients that support the immune system are vitamin C, iron and zinc. Red meat is rich in both iron and zinc. A good non meat source of both iron and zinc is pumpkin seeds, try adding to breakfast cereal, sprinkling on salads or buying seeded bread. For the more extravagant eaters, oysters are one of the riches sources of zinc. Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin which means little is stored in the body and foods rich in vitamin C should be eaten every day. In summer eat lots of berries and salads and in winter switch to broccoli, brussel sprouts, oranges and kiwis. If you like it hot chop a chilli into your dinner, chilli is packed with vitamin C.

Eating foods rich in antioxidant helps protect against some cancers. Antioxidants are found in foods rich in vitamins A, C and E, selenium and phytochemicals. A lovely meal packed with antioxidants is fish served with a tomato, avocado and baby spinach salad and a chunky piece of mixed wholegrain bread, On occasion you could even push the boat out and have it with a glass of red wine.

Whilst all fats carry the same calorific value (9 kcal/gram, compared to 4 kcal/gram for proteins and carbohydrates), some are more beneficial to health than others and are worth spending a few calories on. Unsaturated fats are important for maintaining a healthy heart. A rich source of ‘good fat’ is oily fish, if you do not like oily fish make sure you regularly eat nuts, seeds and soya to compensate.

The great thing about incorporating all these foods in your diet is that not only will they help prevent against illness but they are also the nutrients that make your eyes and hair shine and skin glow. Not only will you feel great but you will look great too.

Helen Money for NHS Self Care Guide.

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