It’s the daggy veg that packs a serious nutrient punch. “It’s full of calcium, fibre, energy-boosting B vitamins and anti-oxidants, plus it contains a natural hormone balancing and detoxifying substance called indole-3-carbinol, which is especially good for women,” says nutritionist Pip Reed.
Fish isn’t just brain food—two servings per week of fatty varieties like salmon may reduce your risk of dying from a heart attack by a third, according to Harvard research. “Its omega-3 fatty acids are so important for our cell function, nervous system and overall health,” says nutritionist Rebecca Harwin. “With important minerals such as calcium, selenium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium, and vitamins like A, C, B6 and folate, one serving of this fish is a nutrient rich dish.” Why wild? Think less saturated fat and fewer contaminants.
Bursting with healthy fats and fibre, it’s not just good spread on toast. “Avocado improves the absorption of powerful phytonutrients, carotenoids, from foods like sweet potatoes, carrots and leafy greens,” says wholefood dietician Larina Robinson. “Plus it's rich in potassium for keeping your blood pressure steady, as well as vitamin E, C, and antioxidants for healthy hair, skin and nails.”
These tiny-but-mighty seeds contain impressive amounts of protein, omega-3 fatty acid, fibre, vitamins B, D and E along with magnesium, calcium, iron and potassium, says nutritionist and naturopath Casey-Lee Lyons. “They provide longer-lasting energy, help reduce sugar cravings, aid digestion and metabolism and promote healthy cholesterol levels.”
Forget expensive bars and shakes—eggs offer a complete protein, naturally. “Plus, they contain wonderful fats, vitamins like A, B2, B5, B12, D, E, and minerals like potassium and selenium. They are a simple, filling, low glycaemic load food,” says Harwin. And yep, the organic versions really are better for you: studies show they contain more vitamins and minerals and less saturated fat and cholesterol.
Roast it, blend it, mash it—when it comes to pumpkin, it’s all good. “The antioxidant beta-carotene and vitamin C found in pumpkin may assist in preventing some cancers, anti-aging, boosting your immune system and giving a healthy glow,” says Robinson. “Plus, the high fibre and water keeps you full.”
“Not many days go by that I don’t include some Greek yoghurt in my diet,” says nutritionist and naturopath Lindy Cook, thanks to its abundance of probiotics, protein and vitamin B12. “But not all are created equal—look for varieties without added sugar or fruits, and preferably organic.”
They score highly on the antioxidant scale, protect our blood vessels and may even reverse age-related reduction in brainpower. “Add to that the fibre that’s so important for a healthy digestive function, plus the mix of vitamins and nutrients, and it's no wonder the blueberry is considered a super food,” says Harwin.
There’s one nut to rule them all, and the experts say it’s not the trendiest (sorry, almonds). “Walnuts have more anti-inflammatory omega 3s for brain health than any other nut, plus fibre for weight control, iron, zinc and selenium minerals for antioxidants, energy and a metabolism boost,” says Reed. Attention insomniacs: they’re also a natural source of sleep-regulating melatonin.
It’s every nutritionist’s favourite spice—perfect in curries, on roasted veggies and in scrambled eggs—thanks to its disease-fighting compound curcumin, a proven anti-inflammatory. “It’s many medicinal qualities include its ability to fight chronic disease, reduce inflammation, improve your liver and digestive health, moderate blood insulin levels, fight premature ageing, reduce depression, treat arthritis and reduce the risk of heart disease and may help in the prevention of a number of cancer types,” says Lyons.