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5 tips for eating healthier

On 16 October - World Food Day - we asked nutritionist Ana Rita Lebreiro (@nutripontocome) to give us 5 tips for eating healthier.

1. Eat vegetables and fruit and colour your diet!

Vegetables and fruit are two groups on the Food Wheel whose recommended daily consumption is 3 to 5 portions for each group, which equates to 400g in total for both.

These foods are rich in fibre, water, various vitamins (such as vitamin C, B9 and A), minerals (such as calcium, magnesium and iron) and phytochemicals, compounds with antioxidant action (such as phenolic compounds), which contribute to good health in the short, medium and long term. Vegetables and fruit help to improve mental health, cardiovascular health, the immune system and the functionality of the digestive system. In addition, their frequent consumption is associated with a reduced risk of obesity, diabetes and protection against the onset of oncological diseases.

If you look, there are two very colourful groups: green, red, yellow, orange and purple. The different colours are associated with the presence of different vitamins and phytochemicals, depending on the predominant colour. Phytochemicals are biologically active compounds naturally present in foods of plant origin, with beneficial effects on health. So eat different colours throughout the week and make your diet colourful!!!!

2. Vegetarian meals, why not introduce some during the week?

It's recommended that lunch and dinner meals include protein sources, carbohydrate sources and vegetables. If you want to have a vegetarian meal, all you have to do is replace the animal protein sources in the meal, meat and fish, with vegetable protein sources such as pulses and their derivatives.

Legumes include different types of beans, chickpeas, broad beans, fresh soya, peas, lupins or lentils, and derivatives such as tofu, seitan, tempeh or textured soya.

Pulses are a nutritionally rich group of foods. They are an excellent supplier of proteins of plant origin which, compared to proteins of animal origin (such as meat, fish and eggs), are proteins of low biological value, since they don't have all the essential amino acids needed by the human body. However, we can compensate for this by combining pulses with cereals, such as rice or pasta, to obtain a complete protein, the famous rice and beans.

They also provide carbohydrates, especially complex carbohydrates; a good amount of fibre (5 to 10% of dry weight); vitamins, especially B vitamins such as folic acid (B9) and minerals such as iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc and phosphorus. They also provide bioactive substances such as phenolic compounds, flavonoids, isoflavones and other antioxidants.

So that you can practically include more vegetarian meals during the week, I suggest:

  1. Choose a day of the week to start, for example, "I'm going to start making Monday's dinner without meat or fish."

  2. Choose one or two pulses that you like and look for recipes, for example chickpeas and lentils.

  3. Write down some recipes you've seen and liked, such as lentil bolognese, chickpea curry, lentil and vegetable rice or chickpea burgers;

  4. Check the ingredients of the recipes and add anything missing to your shopping list;

  5. Then all you have to do is programme which Mondays to make each dish and you're done. Happy cooking!

3."Peel more and unpack less"

The aim of this tip is to return to our origins, to eat more natural foods, in the midst of the abundance of packaged foods that are increasingly present in hypermarkets. Fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, wholegrains, pulses, nuts: peel, chop and enjoy the nutritional richness they provide. They can be used to prepare countless quick, practical and very appealing recipes, such as porridge, hummus, smoothies, truffles, pancakes, sweet potato bread, vegetable curry, among others.

Food processing has made it possible to increase the shelf life of food, making it easier to prepare meals due to its practicality; however, it does have some disadvantages. Some processing methods reduce the nutritional content of foods, such as the milling of cereals, which reduces the fibre and B vitamins content of grains; they often add additives such as preservatives, emulsifiers, colourings, sweeteners, among others; they usually have a greater amount of added sugar and more often resort to the use of refined fats.

We can therefore try to minimise our daily and frequent consumption of highly processed and packaged foods by opting for more natural, organically farmed foods with a higher nutritional density and a greater presence of bioactive compounds, the benefits of which for our health are numerous.

4. Try to respect the seasonality of vegetables and fruit

On supermarket shelves we have long been used to finding all kinds of vegetables and fruit, all year round, even fruits that are not traditional to our country, such as tropical fruits. However, seasonality does exist, even if it is increasingly difficult to identify.

Seasonal foods are harvested at their point of ripeness, are fresh and therefore have much more flavour and are more nutritious. What's more, they are foods that grow to provide us with the nutrients our bodies need, to adapt to the demands of the different times of year. For example, in summer, seasonal fruit is very rich in water, which is essential for hydration, as is the case with melon, cantaloupe and watermelon; and in winter, because of colds and flu, seasonal fruit and vegetables are great suppliers of vitamin C, such as oranges, kiwis and kale.

Favouring a diet based on seasonality is also a choice of proximity, encouraging local production and sustainable attitudes.

Simplu is able to offer products made from out-of-season fruit all year round, with the same nutritional value as if they were in season. How? For example, by using freeze-dried fruit powder, a process that preserves 98% of the nutrients of fresh fruit, as well as its characteristics, colour, blackberry and flavour. And of course, always using organic fruit for freeze-drying.

5. Try to introduce nuts and seeds more regularly

The Mediterranean diet recommends regular consumption of oleaginous fruits (such as walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, cashews and pistachios) and seeds (pumpkin, sesame, chia and sunflower).

Oily fruits, as the name suggests, are a source of fat. The fat present in these foods is of the unsaturated type (mono- and polyunsaturated), fat that raises HDL cholesterol ("good cholesterol") and lowers LDL cholesterol ("bad cholesterol"), which is beneficial for cardiovascular health. They are also a source of fibre, minerals such as magnesium, zinc and iron, vegetable protein, B vitamins and vitamin E.

Seeds, meanwhile, are a nutritional secret to be discovered! Flaxseeds are an excellent source of alpha-linoleic acid (omega-3); hemp seeds are a source of complete protein, i.e. in addition to all the non-essential amino acids, they are a source of the 9 essential amino acids, which our body cannot synthesise; chia seeds are an excellent source of calcium, soluble fibre and iron; pumpkin seeds, as well as being rich in iron, magnesium and iron, have a high amount of the amino acid tryptophan, which is necessary for the production of serotonin and melatonin; and sesame seeds are a source of calcium, magnesium, vitamin B1 and selenium, but one mineral stands out: zinc, which is important for the proper functioning of the immune system.

How to use them? As a snack with fruit or yoghurt, as chia and fruit puddings, as a topping for salads, soups, pancakes or porridge. Give them a try and you'll be a fan!

5 useful tips that we hope you'll be able to put into practice little by little, because we'll be waiting for you to share :) Vegetarian dishes topped with seeds and nuts, breakfasts or snacks with seasonal fruit and a little Granola or Cerellin Simplu, basically, we're looking forward to seeing some colourful and nutritious dishes! Happy adventures :)



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