5 Under-Appreciated Foods With Surprising Health Benefits

With all this talk about superfoods, it’s quite easy to forget about the ordinary stuff that still packs a punch in the health department.  Instead of paying the big bucks for the newest fad in clean eating and nutrient density, look to these old favourites for health and vitality.

Beans & Lentils

These little pieces of goodness are packed with fibre and complex carbohydrates, as well as protein and minerals such as iron, magnesium and zinc.  Beanshave been linked to reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes, as well as improving high blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels.

You can get canned beans that are ready to eat or dried beans, or that you can soak yourself.  They’re great in soups, salads and casseroles or pureed to make a dip.  Try a new style of mash next to your meat and veg – instead of using potatoes, boil up and blend some butter beans and season with lemon juice, thyme and feta.

Watermelon

The ultimate summer fruit – Watermelons are sweet and juicy, low in calories and stuffed with vitamin A and C for excellent immune support.  It also contains lycopene, a fat-soluble carotenoid found in red fruits and vegetables that, like tomatoes and carrots, has powerful antioxidant properties and assists with metabolism and cancer inhibition.

The other great thing about the Watermelons is its thick skin.  It protects the fruit from pests so fewer pesticides are required, making it one of the ‘Clean 15’ fruits and vegetables.  Also, because of their high water content – about 90% – they help keep you hydrated.

Canned Tomatoes

Another common food with great health benefits, tomatoes are great source of cancer-fighting lycopene. They are also full of antioxidants like vitamin C and beta-carotene to ward off nasty free radicals and vitamin K for bone health.

Canned tomatoes are easily stored, fairly easy on the wallet and great in pasta sauces, stews and soups, curries, pizzas and homemade salsa. It’s incredibly important to pay close attention to the labels of canned foods to ensure you are purchasing your tomatoes from manufacturers who produce their products free of BPA and other chemicals.

Natural Greek Yoghurt

Many of us are spoilt for choice at the supermarket when it comes to yoghurt, but some are better for your health than others. Many of the fruity yoghurts are full of sugar and low in protein – Greek yoghurt is different.  It usually has twice the protein content of other yoghurts, while still being a great source of bone-building calcium and probiotic cultures that promote a healthy gut and immune support. Yoghurt is also great at lowering bad cholesterol and assisting with weight loss.

The tartness of natural yoghurt pairs beautifully with fruits like bananas and strawberries, but you can even stir through your favourite protein powder, cinnamon, nut butters and seeds.  Stir some yoghurt through your mashed vegetables or pop a dollop on top of your cereal in the morning.

Celery

Crunchy, juicy, sweet but salty and seriously low in calories, celeryis one vegetable that is truly under-appreciated.  It might seem like there’s nothing to celery, but it is actually full of vitamin K, which is great for bone health, as well as vitamin A and C for immune support, and vitamin B2 and B6 for energy production.  It also has anti-inflammatory properties for digestive and cardiovascular support.

Celery is best enjoyed fresh and crisp and is a great ‘foodtensil’ for scooping up dips or filling with peanut butter and raisins.  You can also chop it up and put it in salads or stir fries, or stick it in the blender with some blueberries and ice for a cool and nutritious summer drink.