From Tofu to Tomato: 15 Clean Foods You Must Include in Your Diet
Here’s a list of 15 clean foods to focus on for the rest of 2018.
Here’s a list of 15 clean foods to focus on for the rest of 2018.(Photo: iStockphoto)

From Tofu to Tomato: 15 Clean Foods You Must Include in Your Diet

Eating clean means cutting down on processed foods and eating more real foods.

The idea is to focus on produce like fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, and whole grains, keep an eye on sodium and cut down on the consumption of sugar and meat.

Here’s a list of 15 clean foods to focus on for the rest of 2018:

1. Edible Flowers: For Multiple Antioxidants

Flowers are very high in antioxidants which can help lower the risk of heart disease and cancers.
Flowers are very high in antioxidants which can help lower the risk of heart disease and cancers.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

It’s time to move beyond thinking of edible flowers as just a quirky and sophisticated garnish to a dish. Besides adding adding color and a touch of whimsy, they deliver a lot of health payback too.

Flowers are very high in antioxidants which can help lower the risk of heart disease and cancers. They also have trace elements such as calcium, zinc and magnesium and many contain Vitamins A, C and E and the elusive Vitamin D. 

Plus of course they all have fibre, and have almost nil fat - both are winning food strategies.

Banana flowers, borage, rose, calendula, chamomile and lavender are some great options to cook with.

Also Read: Eat These 5 Happy Foods to Make 2018 Happier

2. Mushrooms: To Score Vitamin D

Mushrooms help beef up your immunity immensely.
Mushrooms help beef up your immunity immensely.
(Photo Courtesy: Pixabay)

Most of us find difficult to even begin developing a taste for mushrooms, but trust me it’s time to change that. Ignoring this humble food means giving the multiple health benefits it packs within it, a miss.

Mushrooms are low in calories (250 gm give just 80 calories), have nil fat and cholesterol, deliver good quality protein, and lots of difficult to find antioxidant selenium and vitamin D. They help beef up your immunity immensely.

Also Read: Study Proves Magic Mushrooms Can Beat Severe Depression

3. Tofu: For High-Quality Vegetarian Protein

Tofu is a good source of protein
Tofu is a good source of protein
(Photo: iStockphoto)

Anything meat does, tofu can do too; it is very versatile and has a wonderful texture.

Besides tofu is a good source of protein (contains all eight essential amino acids), is an excellent source of iron, calcium and many minerals like manganese, selenium and phosphorous, and is loaded with phytonutrients.

Also Read: Hate Eggs? Here Are Other High Protein Breakfast Options For You

4. Homemade Yogurt: For Some Good Bacteria

Besides calcium and protein, yogurt delivers gut health too.
Besides calcium and protein, yogurt delivers gut health too.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

Commonest fermented food, yogurt is milk that has been cultured with two very specific strains of bacteria: streptoccus thermophilus and lactobacillus bulgaricus.

It must ideally be part of our main meals, both lunch and dinner.

Besides calcium and protein, it delivers gut health too. But as far as possible stick to home-made dahi.

Also Read: Time to Try Greek Yogurt? Here Are Its Health Benefits & Recipe

5. Tomatoes: For Your Heart Health

Tomatoes are loaded with lycopene which are linked with reduction of heart diseases.
Tomatoes are loaded with lycopene which are linked with reduction of heart diseases.
(Photo Courtesy: Pexels)

If tomato is not your best friend already - please remedy that right away!

Research now links lycopene (that tomato is loaded with) with the reduction of heart diseases.

In fact, lycopene has been found to be ten times more powerful than vitamin E and its benefit actually gets enhanced when it is cooked with a little oil. The heat makes more antioxidants available and a little bit of oil helps improve its absorption.

Also Read: What The Heart! You Are When You Eat & Not What You Eat

6. Buckwheat: To Score Gluten-Free Goodness

Buckwheat helps improve circulation, lower blood cholesterol and control blood glucose levels.
Buckwheat helps improve circulation, lower blood cholesterol and control blood glucose levels.
(Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia Commons)

Buckwheat is not really a grain, rather it is a seed. Japanese have turned it into a kind of noodles (called Soba), but in India we mostly have it as flour.

Besides being a good source of vegetarian protein (100 gms gives 12 gm protein), buckwheat helps improve circulation, lower blood cholesterol and control blood glucose levels too, and it is gluten-free.

Also Read: Gluten-Free Diet: A Healthy Option, a Necessity or Just a Fad?

7. Chickpeas: For Hunger Control

Chickpeas are loaded with fibr and are extremely healthy for the heart.
Chickpeas are loaded with fibr and are extremely healthy for the heart.
(Photo Courtesy: Pexels)

Chickpeas are loaded with fibre, which helps fill up with less (research shows that urge to snack is lower after eating chickpeas) and also lowers cholesterol and triglycerides in the body, thus are extremely healthy for the heart.

Also Read: 5 Under 100 Calorie Snacks for Your Mid-Day Hunger Pangs

8. Beetroot: For Taming Your Blood Pressure

Beetroot helps significantly lower the blood pressure.
Beetroot helps significantly lower the blood pressure.
(Photo: iStockphoto)
High nitrate content in beetroot gets converted to nitric oxide in the body and helps to relax and dilate the blood vessels, improving blood flow and thus keeping the blood pressure stable.

Beetroot is also rich in antioxidant betaine, which has anti-inflammatory properties and keeps cholesterol levels in control.

Also Read: Five Reasons Why Beetroots Are Just the Healthy Kick You Need

9. Spinach: For Your Eye Health

Spinach is loaded with health-promoting phytonutrients and has more than a dozen already identified anti-cancer agents.
Spinach is loaded with health-promoting phytonutrients and has more than a dozen already identified anti-cancer agents.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

This leafy green has to be the most underrated food around. Spinach is a great source of not only protein (surpise!), but also of extensive antioxidant coverage.

Spinach is loaded with health-promoting phytonutrients and has more than a dozen already identified anti-cancer agents and heart healthy folate. It is rich in Vitamin A (carotenoids).

Two of the carotenoids - lutein and zeaxanthin, are great for your eyesight.

Also Read: Want Spinach? Here’s How You Can Make it Taste Good! 

10. Bell Peppers: For Whittling Your Waist Down

Bell peppers have high vitamin C content.
Bell peppers have high vitamin C content.
(Photo Courtesy: Flickr)

Bell peppers have a metabolism-boosting compound, dihydrocapsiate, which can help you slim down.

Bell peppers also have high vitamin C content - a cup of these veggies serves up to three times the day’s recommended vitamin C limit. This important nutrient counteracts stress hormones that trigger fat storage around the midsection.

Also Read: World’s Hottest Pepper Causes ‘Thunderclap’ Headaches

11. Sprouted Brown Rice: To Fight Diabetes Better

Sprouting boosts rice’s dietary fiber content, and lowers the glycemic index.
Sprouting boosts rice’s dietary fiber content, and lowers the glycemic index.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

Brown rice is as it is a reliable healthy option, but by sprouting it, you can score even more health benefits.

Sprouting boosts rice’s dietary fiber content, and lowers the glycemic index (helps fight diabetes better). It also helps reduce the risk for heart disease and helps bust depression and fatigue.

Also Read: Eat Your Bananas & Rice in Peace – They Aren’t Fattening Devils!

12. Amaranth: To Cut Inflammation From Your Body

Amaranth is one of the most protein-rich plant-based food.
Amaranth is one of the most protein-rich plant-based food.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

Go local with amaranth. It is one of the most protein-rich plant-based food.

Besides the superlative protein, this grain delivers calcium, potassium and iron, plus lots of vitamin E and magnesium. The anti-inflammatory properties of peptides and oils in amaranth also help ease pain and reduce inflammation.

Also Read: 9 Reasons Why Chia Seeds Are Great for Your Health

13. Sattu: For Cheap High-Quality Protein

Sattu is good for both weight watchers as well as for muscle builders.
Sattu is good for both weight watchers as well as for muscle builders.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

Sattu is a high energy and protein giving food which is a perfect mixture of all the necessary ingredients - protein, carbohydrate, iron, calcium, and vitamins.

Sattu is good for both weight watchers as well as for muscle builders. 100 grams of sattu gives a whooping 23 grams of protein (and 350 calories).

Also Read: When Trying To Lose Weight, Should You Cut Calories or Carbs?

14. Jackfruit - To Lose Weight Naturally

Jackfruit is a natural weight loss aiding food, if had the right way.
Jackfruit is a natural weight loss aiding food, if had the right way.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

Jackfruit is a natural weight loss aiding food, if had the right way.

For starters, it is not high in calories (100 gm gives 90 calories) and is made up of simple sugars like fructose and sucrose that replenish energy and revitalise the body instantly.

Plus, it is rich in dietary fibre, which pump up its satiety value (keep you full for a longer time) and an antioxidant found in it - resveratrol might actually be the key to trimming inches. Just don't fry it and eat.

Also Read: Stop Looking For a Perfect Weight Loss Diet ‘Cuz There Ain’t One

15. Raspberry - For Maximising The Consumption of Antioxidant

Raspberry packs a punch with its antioxidant power.
Raspberry packs a punch with its antioxidant power.
(Photo Courtesy: Pexels)

Berries are toasted world over for their antioxidant levels. But it’s time to give due to a homegrown berry - raspberry - as it packs a punch with its antioxidant power.

This tangy tiny berry is an unsung weight loss super food too, thanks to a natural chemical in it that fires up metabolism.

(Kavita Devgan is a weight management consultant, nutritionist, health columnist and author of ‘Don’t Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People’.)

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