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5 Highly Underrated Healthy Foods That No One Told You About

It’s not hard to find healthy foods that are also cheap. You’re very likely to find them in your local supermarket. And some of them are surprisingly more nutritious than you think!

  

1. Chickpeas

Chickpeas are legumes that are popular in many cuisines. You can buy them dry or boiled (in a can). Here’s why chickpeas should be on your list of healthy foods.

  • A fantastic source of high-quality proteins. Much better than most other pulses.
  • They contain significant amounts of all the essential amino acids.
  • Rich in dietary fibre and unsaturated fatty acids such as linoleic and oleic acids.
  • Contains calcium, magnesium and B vitamins that are necessary for energy and immunity.
  • They help act against many cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and even some cancers1.
  • The thick solution that chickpeas are canned with is called aquafaba. It is used as a replacement for eggs and milk protein2.

Not sure how to eat chickpeas?

Try some traditional hummus instead!

Hummus is made from mashed chickpeas, blended with tahini, olive oil, and lemon juice (pictured above).

People who regularly eat hummus have been shown to have higher nutrient intakes of dietary fibre, polyunsaturated fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. Hummus is also good for weight management, glucose and insulin regulation, and preventing obesity and type 2 diabetes3.

2. Potatoes

Potatoes are usually considered to be unhealthy. Mostly because they are the main ingredients in many junk foods. But these foods are bad due to extensive processing and not the potatoes themselves.

It’s time to rediscover potatoes and see them for what they really are – a superfood! 

  • They contain quite a lot of dietary fibre and complex carbohydrates.
  • Not a lot of protein, but whatever protein they do contain is of an excellent quality.
  • High in vitamin C, several B vitamins and potassium.
  • Surprisingly high antioxidant activity 4, 5 – helps lower blood pressure, improve cardiovascular health and slow the spread of different types of cancer6

There’s a catch though.

To get the maximum benefit from potatoes, it’s best to bake or grill them. Frying or prolonged boiling may vastly reduce their nutritional quality7, 8, 9.

Take this free health quiz to get your health score and check if you are performing at your absolute best. Also get free personalised health advice, including nutritional advice, based on your score.

3. Kefir

Photo by racool_studio on Freepik

Kefir is quite popular in Central Europe and some Middle Eastern countries.

It’s a dairy product prepared from milk via bacterial fermentation. As such, kefir contains various bacteria and yeasts which contribute to its characteristic flavour and aroma. 

Kefir’s health benefits:

  • It exhibits strong anti-bacterial, anti-fungal,  anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic activity.
  • Regular consumption can improve digestion and lactose tolerance10,11.
  • It can also lower cholesterol levels, blood glucose levels and blood pressure10, 11.
  • It has bioactive compounds (polysaccharides and peptides) that have great potential for stopping malignant cancers in its tracks.
  • Kefir may also specifically slow the spread of colorectal, breast and lung cancers12.

4. Pea milk

In the last decade, plant-based alternatives to cow’s milk have become commonplace.

Soya, almonds, rice, coconut, hazelnut, cashew… the choices are endless.

Pea milk is another alternative worth checking out! 

  • Peas are an excellent source of vegetable protein due to high levels of lysine – which has strong antiviral and muscle-building properties.
  • Pea proteins are generally hypoallergenic.
  • Pea proteins may prevent cancer, lower blood pressure, improve your immune system and help with digestion. 15, 16 

5. Pickled vegetables

Quite a few cultures in the world have some form of fermented healthy foods that they swear by for hundreds of years. Kimchi, Sauerkraut, Kefir, and pickles are some common examples.

But why?

What’s the secret?

Let’s talk about pickles. They possess unique nutritional properties thanks to the bacterial fermentation process.

  • The fermentation process increases the vitamin content as well as the antioxidant activity by forming an array of highly bioactive components. 21
  • These are known as biologically active peptides. They exhibit a breathtaking scope of activity.
  • They lower blood pressure, have antibacterial, anti-allergenic, and anti-carcinogenic properties.
  • As a result, fermented foods may help prevent different types of infections, type 2 diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease and degenerative conditions. 22

In addition, microorganisms in the fermentation process also play a big part in our health.

Our gastrointestinal tract is colonised by friendly bacteria. These bacteria are crucial to our survival. They produce various nutrients, prevent infections and improve our immune system.

Therefore, eating pickles and other fermented foods helps with maintaining the well-being of our intestinal microorganisms. 23

How we can help you improve your nutrition with healthy foods

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be complicated and expensive. Fancy supplements will never substitute a well-balanced diet. And it’s available for all of us – in our local supermarket!

However, the effort and time required to identify these healthy foods is a luxury few of us have.

That’s where our health improvement platform comes in.

You can pinpoint areas of your health that are not optimum with our health test. Perhaps your immunity is lacking. Or it might be your energy levels that are chaotic.

The health test breaks down your health into seven performance areas.

But more importantly, the action plan has a dedicated section on nutrition. The best part is that it’s completely personalised to your health goals and your dietary restrictions. Based on your test results, you’ll get your list of healthy foods with explanations as to why they’re important for you.

elevateme - healthy foods nutrition action plan
You also get to see how each nutritional action impacts your health. Check out the demo action plan here.

Join a community of health optimisers and buy your first health test here.

References
  1. Jukanti, A. K., Gaur, P. M., Gowda, C. L., & Chibbar, R. N. (2012). Nutritional quality and health benefits of chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.): a review. The British Journal of Nutrition, 108 Suppl 1, S11–S26.
  2. Shim, Y. Y., Mustafa, R., Shen, J., Ratanapariyanuch, K., & Reaney, M. (2018). Composition and Properties of Aquafaba: Water Recovered from Commercially Canned Chickpeas. Journal of Visualized Experiments : JoVE, (132), 56305. 
  3. Wallace, T. C., Murray, R., & Zelman, K. M. (2016). The Nutritional Value and Health Benefits of Chickpeas and Hummus. Nutrients, 8(12), 766. 
  4. Camire, M. E., Kubow, S., & Donnelly, D. J. (2009). Potatoes and human health. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 49(10), 823–840. 
  5. King, J. C., & Slavin, J. L. (2013). White potatoes, human health, and dietary guidance. Advances in Nutrition (Bethesda, Md.), 4(3), 393S–401S. 
  6. McGill, C. R., Kurilich, A. C., & Davignon, J. (2013). The role of potatoes and potato components in cardiometabolic health: a review. Annals of Medicine, 45(7), 467–473. 
  7. Borch, D., Juul-Hindsgaul, N., Veller, M., Astrup, A., Jaskolowski, J., & Raben, A. (2016). Potatoes and risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease in apparently healthy adults: a systematic review of clinical intervention and observational studies. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 104(2), 489–498. 
  8. Schwingshackl, L., Schwedhelm, C., Hoffmann, G., & Boeing, H. (2019). Potatoes and risk of chronic disease: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis. European Journal of Nutrition, 58(6), 2243–2251. 
  9. Robertson, T. M., Alzaabi, A. Z., Robertson, M. D., & Fielding, B. A. (2018). Starchy Carbohydrates in a Healthy Diet: The Role of the Humble Potato. Nutrients, 10(11), 1764.  
  10. Farag, M. A., Jomaa, S. A., El-Wahed, A. A., & El-Seedi, A. (2020). The Many Faces of Kefir Fermented Dairy Products: Quality Characteristics, Flavour Chemistry, Nutritional Value, Health Benefits, and Safety. Nutrients, 12(2), 346. 
  11. Rosa, D. D., Dias, M., Grześkowiak, Ł. M., Reis, S. A., Conceição, L. L., & Peluzio, M. (2017). Milk kefir: nutritional, microbiological and health benefits. Nutrition Research Reviews, 30(1), 82–96. 
  12. Sharifi, M., Moridnia, A., Mortazavi, D., Salehi, M., Bagheri, M., & Sheikhi, A. (2017). Kefir: a powerful probiotics with anticancer properties. Medical Oncology (Northwood, London, England), 34(11), 183. 
  13. Zugravu, C., & Otelea, M. R. (2019). Dark Chocolate: To Eat or Not to Eat? A Review. Journal of AOAC International, 102(5), 1388–1396. 
  14. Kerimi, A., & Williamson, G. (2015). The cardiovascular benefits of dark chocolate. Vascular Pharmacology, 71, 11–15.
  15. Ge, J., Sun, C. X., Corke, H., Gul, K., Gan, R. Y., & Fang, Y. (2020). The health benefits, functional properties, modifications, and applications of pea (Pisum sativum L.) protein: Current status, challenges, and perspectives. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, 19(4), 1835–1876. 
  16. Lu, Z. X., He, J. F., Zhang, Y. C., & Bing, D. J. (2020). Composition, physicochemical properties of pea protein and its application in functional foods. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 60(15), 2593–2605. 
  17. Melini, F., Melini, V., Luziatelli, F., Ficca, A. G., & Ruzzi, M. (2019). Health-Promoting Components in Fermented Foods: An Up-to-Date Systematic Review. Nutrients, 11(5), 1189. 
  18. Şanlier, N., Gökcen, B. B., & Sezgin, A. C. (2019). Health benefits of fermented foods. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 59(3), 506–527. 
  19. Markowiak, P., & Śliżewska, K. (2017). Effects of Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Synbiotics on Human Health. Nutrients, 9(9), 1021. 
potatoes healthy foods - ElevateMe (1)

Written by Anna Gora

I am a certified personal trainer, nutritionist and health coach with nearly 10 years of professional experience. I hold a Master’s degree in Nutrition, Physical Activity & Public Health from the University of Bristol. I am passionate about empowering people to live a healthy lifestyle and promoting the benefits of a plant-based diet.

03/02/2022

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