It enjoys a great reputation in the context of its relationship with sushi, and plays an important role in miso soup, but have you ever stopped to consider the real benefits of seaweed?
Incredibly rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, seawood may not be a pretty face but it’s got some incredible street cred when it comes to its nutritional content. Low in calories, research has demonstrated it may help regulate hormones, is a good all round tonic, may improve heart health and provides your daily dose of iodine, a mineral that is critical for healthy thyroid function.
This dense green or brown sea vegetable can be introduced to your regular diet in a number of ways. Nori seaweed sheets can be used to roll sushi, tucked into a wrap or sandwich, cut in to pieces and tossed through a salad or added to pastas, casseroles, stews and soups.
As the Japanese say, ‘Oishii!’ (delicious).
Global empires have been built on the premise. Instagram influencers are courting the attention and affection of millions with their disciplined adherence to its principles. There are books, blogs and food bags dedicated to the cause. In short, cleaning is a food frenzy: but what, exactly, is it?
At its heart, it is a very simple concept – it extols the virtues of whole or real foods – those that take a very healthy digression away from processed, refined and even handled foods. If you’re keen on the concept of clean eating but need to know the ins and outs, we’ve got you covered.
Ditch the sugar: Cravings for cakes and cookies might come calling but you need to shut the metaphorical door on these. Cleaning up your diet means limiting sweets – even those found in yogurt and cereal.
Limit sodium: Most of us are getting more sodium than we need. Cutting back on yummies that fall into the processed category will help reduce your salt intake. Salt isn’t a total no-no; it’s a brilliant flavour enhancer but use it sparingly.
Pick produce: We all know the 5+ a day advice and clean eating lends its voice to this philosophy. The fibre in whole produce is great for the gut as it works to keep your microbiome (good bacteria) happy.
Eat less meat: Extensive research suggests cutting back on meat does you, and the planet, a favour. While veganism isn’t a compulsory requirement of clean eating, eating less meat can help keep your weight in check and reduce blood pressure.
As women’s bodies grow and change, nutritional needs change too. Sara Widdowson, a Nutrition Consultant and Dietitian at Oxford Women’s Health, shares her expert advice on staying healthy at every age and stage of life.
What are the top priorities for children and adolescents when it comes to good nutrition?
Children and adolescents are still growing and need lots of energy. Rather than filling them up with calorie-dense foods, keep the focus on nutrient-rich foods, such as colourful vegetables, lean meat and milk, to make sure they are getting all they need to thrive.
Encouraging children to listen to their bodies – like stopping eating when they’re full – helps to establish good eating habits that will set them up for life.
For young women, iron intake is particularly important. Meat, nuts, and leafy-green vegetables all contain iron.
What should pregnant women be eating to help improve the health of their baby?
Instead of ‘eating for two’, pregnant women should be eating food that is twice as healthy. ‘Quality over quantity’ is an easy way to think about it.
What mum puts in her body is really important for the baby’s development. Folate from foods such as dark green vegetables, beans and lentils helps to prevent neural defects, while iodine is important for brain development, for example.
Do nutritional needs change when you are having a period?
Your basal-metabolic rate – how much energy you’re burning at rest – is higher when you are having a period. I encourage women not to avoid that hunger but to try and choose nutrient-dense foods. Instead of chocolate, try magnesium-rich options like nuts and seafood.
Which foods are beneficial for women going through menopause?
Oestrogen and progesterone drop during menopause, which is particularly detrimental to bone health. Upping your calcium intake by eating canned fish, soy products and calcium-rich milk is crucial during this time.
There’s evidence to suggest that foods like tofu, milk, chickpeas, flaxseeds and lentils can help to reduce menopause symptoms.
Do older people have different nutritional needs?
When you get older you lose your thirst receptors, which means you can be dehydrated and not know it. Have a jug of water or water bottles in your fridge, so you can make sure you are drinking enough.
Getting short doses of vitamin D from the sun every day is important for bone health. Deficiency in B12 is also very common in older people, so including foods like milk, eggs, fish and chicken in your diet is key.
The most important thing to do at any age is to eat a nutrient rich diet. Eat vegetables at every meal, if possible, and include ‘good fats’ like oily fish, avocado and flaxseed oil in your daily routine.
When someone suggests wrapping your laughing gear around the newest culinary powerhouse ‘drinkable soup’ you’d be well within your rights to look at them like they’re a little bit bonkers for stating the obvious. The concept of drinkable soup seems pretty standard, right? Wrong.
Drinkable soup is flipping the status quo on its head. The new foodie favourite dominating the headlines has rendered spoons redundant. Just your lips or a straw are all that’s required to indulge. Dubbed the new ‘juice’, drinkable soups can be made from scratch at home and enjoyed cold or hot on the go, or alternatively, purchased from the cafes or grocers who are supporting this new wellness warrior and its super powers. Superfood power that is.
Drinkable soups are packing a super healthy punch with all their yummy ingredients – veggies galore, plus all the other goodies like kale, hemp seeds, ginger and turmeric. Marrying the best of both worlds – convenience and nutrition – they’ve moved out of the margins and into the mainstream.