Natural foods are of such tremendous help to the human body. They are endowed with enormous amount of nutrients that help the human body in building, maintain and protect.
These include fruits , vegetables amongst all other nutrients that make up the essential nutrients , needed by the human body.
It is therefore important that we pay attention to these super fruits and vegetables, and get the maximum benefits from them.
The body needs a variety of the following 5 nutrients – protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamins and minerals – from the food we eat to stay healthy and productive. Protein – is needed to build, maintain and repair muscle, blood, skin and bones and other tissues and organs in the body.
Good food is important for us . Food is essential for our bodies to:
• develop, replace and repair cells and tissues;
• produce energy to keep warm, move and work;
• carry out chemical processes such as the digestion of food;
• protect against, resist and fight infection and recover from sickness.
Food is needed by the human body for energy, to repair and build cells and to prevent sickness and heal from it. While it is possible to obtain nutrients in a scientifically controlled manner, common food is the most efficient way of obtaining energy and nutrients
– is needed to build, maintain and repair muscle, blood, skin and bones and other tissues and organs in the body.
Foods rich in protein include meat, eggs, dairy and fish.
provides the body with its main source of energy.
Carbohydrates can be classified into two kinds; starches and sugars. Food rich in
starches include rice, maize, wheat and potatoes and food rich in sugars include fruit, honey, sweets and chocolate bars.
-This is the body’s secondary source of energy. Fat actually provides more energy/calories per gram than any other nutrient, but is more difficult to burn.
Food rich in fats are oils, butter, lard, milk, cheese and some meat.
Vitamins and Minerals
– Vitamins and minerals are needed in very small amounts and are sometimes called micronutrients, but are essential for good health. They control many functions and processes in the body, and in the case of minerals also help build body tissue such as bones (calcium) and blood (iron ].In addition to the above nutrients Fibre and Water are also essential for a good healthy diet.
A Balanced Diet
To stay healthy we not only need all of the above 5 nutrients in our diet but we also need them in the correct quantities . This is what we mean by a balanced diet.
The consequences of not having a balanced diet are numerous: if you do not eat enough protein, you will not be able to grow properly; if you do not eat enough energy containing foods (eg carbohydrates and fat), you will feel very tired; and if you eat too much energy containing foods you will become overweight.
Many people in the developed world eat too much of some types of food, for example a lot of saturated fats, and become overweight. Obesity is becoming a big problem in the developed world. One third of all Americans are obese. Being obese has serious health implications including increasing your chances of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, having a stroke or getting a number of forms of cancer.
In the developing world, on the other hand, many people suffer from:
Hunger, or under nutrition, whereby they do not have enough food or Malnutrition, which means ‘badly nourished’ and is as much about what you eat as how much.
Malnutrition is characterised by inadequate intake of protein, energy and/or micronutrients and by frequent infection and disease.
• Eat staple foods with every meal.
Staple foods should make up the largest part of a meal. These foods are relatively cheap and supply a good amount of energy and some protein. Staples include cereals (such as rice, maize, millet, sorghum, wheat and barley), starchy roots (such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, cassava and yams) and starchy fruit (such as plantains).
However, staple foods are not enough to provide all the nutrients the body needs. Other foods must be eaten to provide additional energy, proteins and micronutrients.
• Eat legumes if possible every day
These foods provide a person with the proteins needed to develop and repair the body and also to build up strong muscles. They are good sources of vitamins, minerals and fibre and help to keep the immune system active.
Legumes include beans, peas, lentils, groundnuts (including peanut butter) and soybeans. When eaten with staple foods the quality of protein is increased. Legumes are a cheaper protein source than animal foods, such as beef and chicken, and should be eaten every day, if possible.
• Eat animal and milk products regularly
Foods from animals and fish should also be eaten as often as you can afford them. They supply good-quality proteins, vitamins and minerals and extra energy. They will help to strengthen muscles and the immune system.
These foods include all forms of meat, poultry (birds), fish, eggs and dairy products such as milk, sour milk, buttermilk, yoghurt and cheese. If insects, such as caterpillars or grasshoppers, are part of your diet, they also provide good nutrients.
• Eat vegetables and fruit every day
Vegetables and fruit are an important part of a healthy and balanced meal. They supply the vitamins and minerals that keep the body functioning and the immune system strong.
Below are some very good vegetables and fruits that gives natural nourishment to the body.
Why they’re super: Beets are loaded with antioxidants and have been found to protect against cancer, heart disease, and inflammation. Naturally sweet and full of fiber and vitamin C, beets make a delicious and nutrient-packed addition to any meal.
How to enjoy them: Try finely grated raw beets in your salads or roast them along with sweet potatoes and parsnips for a colorful and flavorful side-dish—just keep in mind that certain cooking methods (like boiling) may decrease their nutritional value. And don’t forget about the leafy green tops, which are rich in iron and folate, and can be prepared much like their cousins, Swiss chard and spinach.
Why they’re super: Need a beta-carotene fix? Just one medium sweet potato packs over four times the recommended daily amount. These tasty tubers are also rich in potassium, inflammation-fighting vitamin C, and vitamin B6, which may prevent clogged arteries.
How to enjoy them: Boiling sweet potatoes may cause some of the water-soluble vitamins to leach out, so try them baked, roasted, or cubed, and added to soups or stews. If you need a boost of fiber, make sure to leave the skins on.
Why they’re super: One-quarter cup of walnuts supplies 90% of the daily recommended amount of omega-3 fatty acids, which aid in everything from maintaining cognitive function, to improving cholesterol and blood pressure.
How to enjoy them: Toss a few toasted walnut halves on your oatmeal (another heart-healthy superfood) or try them on your favorite salad for a tasty crunch.
Why it’s super: Yogurt contains probiotics, which are bacteria that live in the intestine, aid in digestion, boost the immune system, diminish bad breath, and are even associated with longer life spans. A 1-cup serving also supplies one-third of your daily calcium requirement, as well as 14 grams of satisfying protein.
How to enjoy it: Opt for low-fat or nonfat versions to minimize saturated fat, and try substituting plain yogurt for a healthier alternative to sour cream. Lactose intolerant? Look for soy or rice milk varieties.
Why they’re super: Apples are the richest fruit source of pectin, a soluble fiber that has been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, decrease the risk of colon and breast cancers, and maybe even lessen the severity of diabetes.
How to enjoy them: Try throwing a few slices on your favorite sandwich or toss with field greens, toasted pecans, and a light vinaigrette for a delicious salad. With so many varieties available, you’ll never get bored finding new ways to incorporate them into your daily diet.
Why they’re super: Just one half of a medium-size avocado contains more than 4 grams of fiber and 15% of your recommended daily folate intake. Cholesterol-free and rich in monounsaturated fats and potassium, avocados are also a powerhouse for heart health.
How to enjoy them: Use avocados as the base for a creamy homemade sandwich spread, or add a few chunks to your favorite salsa for a simple and delicious way to dress up grilled chicken or fish.
Why it’s super: Powerful antioxidants in spinach have been found to combat a variety of cancers, including ovarian, breast, and colon cancers. And it’s good for the noggin: Research indicates that spinach reduces the decline in brain function associated with aging and protects the heart from cardiovascular disease. Although it contains relatively high amounts of iron and calcium, oxalate compounds bind to these minerals and diminish their absorption.
How to enjoy it: Spinach has a mild flavor, so spice it up with garlic, olive oil, and onions.
Why they’re super: This hearty, fiber-rich squash is packed with beta-carotene (converted to vitamin A in the body), which reduces the risk of developing lung cancer. The antioxidant activity of this vitamin combined with potassium, which may help prevent high blood pressure, makes it a nutritional superstar.
How to enjoy them: If you prepare a whole squash, toast the seeds for a delicious snack containing heart-healthy fats. The sweet taste and moist texture makes it ideal for desserts.
Why they’re super: Trying to get more vitamin C in your diet? One cup of papaya cubes supplies more than 100% of your daily requirement, as well as a hefty dose of potassium and folate. It is also a good source of vitamins A and E, two powerful antioxidants that protect against heart disease and colon cancer.
How to enjoy them: Savor the rich, buttery flesh of this tropical fruit in smoothies and salads, or simply scoop it out of the shell with a spoon.
Why they’re super: Just one medium orange (think tennis ball) supplies all your daily vitamin C, which is a dynamite immunity booster and cancer fighter. And consuming vitamin C is best done in its natural form: Italian researchers also found that test subjects had greater antioxidant protection after drinking orange juice versus vitamin C–fortified water. Plus, this sweet and tangy fruit is a good source of fiber, potassium, calcium, folate, and other B vitamins.
How to enjoy them: The tangy taste of oranges makes a great combination with other strong flavors, such as ginger and honey. Put them on salads, or use them in marinades and sauces for meats.
Why it’s super: Not only does flaxseed lower blood cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart attack, but it is also a rich source of lignan, a powerful antioxidant that may be a powerful ally against disease and certain cancers, especially breast cancer. Just 2 tablespoons of ground seeds (which are digested more efficiently than whole seeds) contain about 20% of the recommended daily fiber* intake and more than 100% of the recommended intake for inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids.
How to enjoy it: Add ground flaxseed to baked goods for a nutty flavor or sprinkle it on top of your favorite cereal. It’s also delicious when blended with yogurt and fresh fruit for a tasty smoothie.
Why they’re super: Cranberries are renowned for protecting against urinary tract infections, but did you also know they may improve blood cholesterol and aid in recovery from strokes? Cranberry juice has also been shown to make cancer drugs more potent.
How to enjoy them: Although available frozen year-round, enjoy these tart and tangy berries fresh during their peak season from October through December.