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Chicken tagine with lemons, olives & pomegranate served in a bowl

20 foods to make you feel fantastic

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Look and feel your best with our top 20 good-for-you foods – and learn to cook with them to optimise their benefits.

Apples

Packed with vitamins, antioxidants and fibre, apples are one of our favourite budget-friendly, healthy fruits. They contain a form of fibre called pectin which may have a cholesterol-lowering effect.

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Recipes to try:

Apple & penne slaw with walnuts

Seared venison with sprout and apple slaw

Raspberry & apple smoothie

Beetroot

Naturally rich in nitrates, beetroots are good for the heart, may lower blood pressure and, because nitrates improve blood flow, help power you through that exhausting gym session.

Recipes to try:

Honey-roast beetroot

Beetroot falafel

Creamy beetroot curry

Blueberries

Famed for their immune-supportive properties, these little berries are rich in protective compounds called anthocyanins.

Recipes to try:

American blueberry pancakes

Apple & blueberry bircher

Fruitburst muffins

Chicken, avocado salad with blueberry balsamic dressing

Fruitburst muffins

Brazil nuts

Famed for their high selenium content, Brazil nuts are actually the richest known food source of this immune-supportive nutrient. Just 2-3 nuts a day is all you need.

Recipes to try:

Brazil nut refried beans

Brazil nut burritos

Sweet and spicy nuts

Carrots

Rich in carotenes, that the body converts to vitamin A for plump, healthy skin and for enhancing the immune system.

Recipes to try:

Skinny carrot fries

Carrot, apple & celeriac mash

Carrot & hummus roll-ups

Citrus

Rich in vitamin C and loaded with compounds called bioflavonoids that help vitamin C do its job and make this important vitamin more easily absorbed.

Recipes to try:

Grapefruit, orange & apricot salad

Creamy garlic, lemon and spinach salmon

Honeyed orange & grapefruit

Cranberries

With a reputation for helping to prevent urinary tract infections (UTI), especially cystitis in women, these little berries have both anti-fungal and antiviral properties.

Recipes to try:

Braised beef with cranberries and spices

Pumpkin, cranberry and red onion tagine

Cranberry and lentil bake

Eggs

Nutritional powerhouses and excellent value for money – a medium-sized egg supplies as much as 6-7g of protein. Eggs are also a good source of choline, a nutrient needed for brain function and a sharp memory.

Recipes to try:

Breakfast egg wraps

Indian chickpeas with poached eggs

Healthy shakshuka

Garlic

Rich in an active compound called allicin, this sulphur-containing compound gives garlic its pungent smell, distinctive taste and many of its health benefits. These including being heart-friendly and anti-viral.

Recipes to try:

Crispy garlic & rosemary slices

Spaghetti with spinach & garlic

Green beans with shallots, garlic & toasted almonds

Green beans with shallots garlic and toasted almonds

Ginger

With multiple benefits, this root spice may help alleviate nausea, aid digestion and has anti-inflammatory properties.

Recipes to try:

Lime & ginger salmon

Spiced parsnip & cauliflower soup

Sea bass en papillote with Thai flavours

Fish

A healthy choice, fish and especially the oily varieties including salmon, trout, sardines and mackerel, are a useful source of protein and supply essential omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are heart-friendly and support brain development and function.

Recipes to try:

Scandi trout with fennel and potato salad

Baked salmon

Spanish sardines on toast

Lettuce & salad greens

Tangy varieties, such as chicory and endive, stimulate the liver, making them great detoxifiers. Don’t discard the outer leaves, they tend to be richer in nutrients including folate.

Recipes to try:

Garden salad

Vitality chicken salad with avocado dressing

Cucumber, pea and lettuce soup

Vitality chicken salad with avocado dressing

Oats

Oats make an excellent start to the day because they supply a source of complex carbohydrates, which means they provide slow-releasing energy to fuel you through your morning. They are also rich in a type of fibre that helps to manage cholesterol levels and protective plant compounds that make them good for the heart.

Recipes to try:

Blueberry baked oats

Overnight oats

Banana oat pancakes

Olives

Rich in the heart-friendly type of fat, mono-unsaturates, olives are also a useful source of fibre. They are rich in plant compounds called polyphenols which have powerful health benefits including being anti-inflammatory.

Recipes to try:

Chicken tagine with lemons, olives and pomegranate

Cauliflower steaks with roasted red pepper and olive salsa

Veggie olive wraps with mustard vinaigrette

Pistachio nuts

Compared to most other nuts, pistachios are lower in fat and calories. They’re especially rich in phytosterols, that support cardiovascular health.

Recipes to try:

Chicken and pistachio salad

Herb salad with pomegranate and pistachios

Minty carrot, pistachio and feta salad

Chicken & pistachio salad

Quinoa

If you follow a vegan or plant-based diet, quinoa can make a valuable dietary inclusion because it contains all nine essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein that we need for growth and repair.

Recipes to try:

Spicy Cajun chicken quinoa

Vegetable tagine apricot quinoa

California quinoa and avocado salad

Soy

Soy contains natural compounds called isoflavones, which have powerful antioxidant properties – but they have also attracted a great deal of attention because they mimic a weak form of the hormone oestrogen. For some women, including soy in the diet helps with peri-menopausal symptoms including mood and hot flushes.

Recipes to try:

Tempeh traybake

Tofu scramble

Tofu, butternut and mango curry

Sweet potato

Counting as one of your five-a-day, a medium sweet potato is rich in beta carotene and fibre. The sweet taste and soft texture make them the perfect comfort food.

Recipes to try:

Spinach, sweet potato and lentil dhal

Sweet potato, harissa cakes with poached eggs

Feta and kale-loaded sweet potato

Feta & kale loaded sweet potato

Watercress

This peppery leaf is a great source of iron and calcium as well as vitamins C and E. However, its main claim to health fame is its role in reducing the risk of cancer.

Recipes to try:

Watercress, celeriac soup with goat’s cheese croutons

Sea trout & buckwheat salad with watercress and asparagus

Lamb tagliata with watercress and tomatoes

Yogurt (Greek)

Greek yogurt is made from cow's milk that has been strained to remove the whey, resulting in a thicker, creamier consistency. It’s a good source of protein as well as minerals such as calcium and phosphorus. When you choose yogurt made with ‘live cultures’ you’ll also benefit from gut healthy properties.

Recipes to try:

Beetroot rosti with green yogurt and smoked salmon

Roast aubergines with yogurt and harissa

Cauliflower cakes with green yogurt sauce

Like this? Now try:

Top 10 energy-boosting lunches
5 top tips to boost your energy
Healthy breakfast recipes
Mood-boosting breakfast recipes
Easy ways to eat more vegetables
How food affects your mood: Healthy Diet Plan


This article was last reviewed on 20 June 2022 by Kerry Torrens.

Kerry Torrens is a qualified nutritionist (MBANT) with a post graduate diploma in Personalised Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy. She is a member of the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT) and a member of the Guild of Food Writers. Over the last 15 years she has been a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food. Follow Kerry on Instagram at @kerry_torrens_nutrition_

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