A leading nutritionist has revealed the top five plant-based foods to include in your diet each week to stay healthy all year round.
Fiona Tuckfrom Sydney, said it was important to eat a wide range of vegetables, legumes and whole grains to ensure the body received essential vitamins, nutrients and fibre.
“We know that different foods contain different prebiotics and phytonutrients, hence the importance of diversity,” Fiona told FEMAIL.
Sydney nutritionist Fiona Tuck (pictured) said it was important to eat a wide range of vegetables, pulses and whole grains to ensure the body received essential vitamins and nutrients
Fiona’s Choice – Broccoli
First, Fiona mentioned that it’s essential to incorporate “cruciferous vegetables” into your diet – foods from the cabbage family.
These plant-based foods can include broccoli, kale, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts, which are a good source of nutrients and fiber.
“Cruciferous vegetables provide a superfood plant compound called sulforaphane, which has been shown to have an array of important health-protecting benefits,” Fiona says.
These foods also contain high sources of vitamins A and C to help reduce the risk of inflammation and prevent disease.
His favorite cruciferous vegetable was the humble broccoli, as it’s high in fiber, low in calories, and rich in vitamins C and K.
“Broccoli contains minerals like choline which helps with blood sugar levels, it’s also anti-inflammatory, supports liver health and detoxification, and may even help protect against certain cancers,” Fiona said.
First, Fiona mentioned that it’s essential to incorporate cruciferous vegetables into your diet – plants from the cabbage family. These plant-based foods can include broccoli, kale, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts, which are a good source of nutrients and fiber.
Fiona’s Five Pantry Must-Haves
extra virgin olive oil
Frozen mixed berries
Dried herbs and spices – chilli, rosemary and turmeric
Fiona’s Choice – Chickpeas
Fiona has dubbed legumes as one of the “healthiest plant-based foods” that offer a variety of benefits.
“Legumes provide prebiotic and resistant starch benefits that help fuel beneficial microbes in our gut,” she said.
Legumes not only help keep your gut healthy, but also help lower cholesterol levels.
They also break down slowly, which means you’ll stay full longer.
Fiona’s favorite legume is chickpeas – which can be bought wet or dry from supermarkets.
“Chickpeas are incredibly versatile and can be added to salads, soups, stews, and made into hummus for a healthy snack,” she says.
“Chickpeas are rich in nutrients such as fiber, potassium, B vitamins, iron, magnesium and selenium, promote gut and heart health.”
Fiona’s Choice – Oats
You should also include whole grains, such as oats, barley, and rye, in your weekly diet.
Fiona said whole grains are high in fiber, prebiotics and beta-glucan to support gut health and heart health.
Oats were Fiona’s whole grain of choice because it’s an ingredient that can be added to smoothies, baked goods, or steeped overnight for breakfast.
A fabulous source of fiber, oats help with gut health, heart health, blood sugar balance and can help lower cholesterol as part of a healthy diet,” she said. .
Fiona has dubbed pulses as one of the ‘healthiest plant-based foods’ offering a variety of benefits
Fiona’s Choice – Flax Seeds
To improve brain health and reduce the risk of inflammatory disease, Fiona recommended eating plant-based foods high in omega 3s.
Nuts and seeds such as flaxseed, chia, hemp, and walnuts are rich in omega 3s and can be eaten in place of fatty fish as a plant-based alternative.
Fiona said flax seeds are a “superfood” for skin, hair, hormones and the digestive system.
“Packed with nutrients including lignans, antioxidants, fiber, protein, and polyunsaturated fatty acids like alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) or omega-3s, flaxseeds can help lower cholesterol and relieve constipation as part of a healthy diet,” she said. .
Fiona’s Choice – Spinach
To maintain health through the seasons, Fiona’s final recommendation is to fill your plate on one side with greens.
Spinach, green beans, cabbage and kale are said to be the “healthiest” on the list of green vegetables.
“Spinach is another good source of vitamins and minerals such as beta-carotene – a skin-loving nutrient – and iron, as well as phytochemicals that can help fight inflammation and disease,” she said.
How to make Fiona Tuck’s Moroccan Chickpea Stew:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 brown onion, finely chopped
1 stalk of celery, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
1 fingernail size fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
200g tinned crushed tomatoes
1 box of 400g organic chickpeas
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes (or to taste)
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 large handfuls of washed spinach leaves, chopped
A small handful of fresh coriander leaves and parsley, washed and finely chopped
Squeezed lemon juice
Brown rice or cauliflower rice, for serving
Add the oil to a non-stick skillet then add the garlic, onion, celery, bell pepper and cook gently until softened.
Stir in ginger and spices, then add broth, tomatoes and chickpeas.
Cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes or until the mixture has thickened.
Add peas and spinach and stir until peas are cooked through and spinach is wilted.
Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro, parsley and lemon juice.
Serve with cauliflower rice or brown rice.