With diets popping up everywhere on the internet promising excellent results in no time, it can be hard to find ways to conduct a healthy and balanced lifestyle, especially when it comes to food.
A term that gained much popularity since 2017 has been ‘vegan’, where countries like the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada are associated with the highest interest in this topic. In fact, Google Trends shows us that not only ‘vegan’, but also related topics like ‘plant-based diet’ have grown by 110% in searches during the last few years.
With more people interested in finding ways to substitute animal products and perhaps try new alternatives, I decided to give you an overview of a few products I routinely buy when grocery shopping to incorporate more protein in my meals.
I first tried this food as an appetizer at a japanese restaurant and immediately fell in love with it. I enjoy trying new cuisines and eating Asian food so it’s no surprise that I integrate this item in many of my dishes, especially noodle stir-fry. Edamame are basically immature soybeans and they are used not only on their own, but can be processed to create other types of protein-rich items (e.g. tofu, miso, tempeh, etc,).
I love this food as it takes seconds to prepare (I usually buy it frozen and defrost it with some boiling water) and you can add it to salads and many other dishes and it adds a very nice green colour to your plates.
But don't just take my word for it, edamame beans are also known in the medical world to have many benefits for our overall health. For example, a portion of 100 grams contains over 10g of protein, along with 4.7g of fibre.
Furthermore, various studies support the use of soybeans to promote a healthier lifestyle. For example, a 2017 study published by Canadian academics in the journal Nutrients found soy to have several properties, like decreasing glucose levels as well as being beneficial for cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
If you’re interested, here’s a quick and easy recipe to include edamame in a balanced meal with quinoa and create a colourful plate to serve at dinner!
Lentils are known for being a good source of protein and complex carbs, and also for being accessible for most people due to their low price. They’re part of the legume family and there are a variety of them you can buy. They can range from green to red to brown tipologies and it’s a great alternative to animal-based protein. Lentils have many nutritional properties, as they contain high percentages of vitamins, like folate, and minerals, like iron and manganese.
Folate is part of the Vitamins B group and helps with converting carbs into energy and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Iron helps your blood cells carry oxygen around your body and is essential for your body to grow healthily and manage hormones. While manganese is important to control glucose and cholesterol levels and helps keep bones healthy.
A 2017 study conducted by academics from the Baptist University of Hong Kong, showed lentils to have several nutrients that help keep the gut healthy and they contain a lot of potassium, which helps maintain blood and fluid levels in check. Moreover, the study also showed lentils to be rich in polyphenols, which lower the risk of diseases like obesity and diabetes.
A really good hearty dish that uses lentils is dahl, which can be served with rice and coriander. Try this recipe to spice up your cooking and include lentils in your diet! Nut Butters
There’s no way around it: I’m a big fan of nut butters and you should be too! People might be sceptical of trying them and including them in their diets due to their high fat content. However, nut butters mainly contain unsaturated fats which are good for preventing various diseases, like those affecting the heart.
These butters also help keep cholesterol levels in place while allowing you to increase your intake of Vitamins E, magnesium and zinc. While nut butters are healthy, you have to check labels and nutrients info to ensure that there are no added sugar, salt or any other additional preservative so you can make the best of the ingredients’ benefits.
My favourite one is crunchy peanut butter, which I love to add to my yoghurt, toast or simply eat it with raw fruit, like apples. Peanut butter is known for being rich in protein which helps you stay full for longer. This also helps people to maintain their weight in the long-term.
To include more nut butters in your diet, try adding them to oatmeal, pair them with raw fruit as a snack or top them on your smoothie. They give extra flavour to many dishes and help you increase your protein intake. You can add these great sources of protein and many other animal-based products on your 360Wellness Tracker. The app will also adapt the options of food categories you can add to your daily intake of calories to your chosen diet. To read more about how the nutrition section of the 360Wellness tracker works, click here and check out my other blog articles!