Healthy Lifestyle

The key to healthy living is making sure you only use the very best ingredients and include a wide range of foods in your diet, to make it as well-balanced as possible. At McCain we freeze our food just hours after harvesting it, in order to lock in the nutrition. So you can rest assured that if you add McCain products to your menu, you’re half way towards healthier living.

Nutritional information compiled by MME Dietitians.

Good nutrition means getting the most out of your daily diet. Every meal or snack is an opportunity to provide your body with healthy nutrients. A healthy diet is nutrient-rich, which means it provides your body with a wide range of naturally-occurring nutrients, but fewer kilojoules.

Fruits and veggies are great nutrient-rich foods and are relatively low in kilojoules. Eating your greens reduces your risk of heart disease, helps with weight control, and has been proven to have cancer reducing effects.
Whole grains and legumes also have a wide range of health benefits given their naturally-occurring fibre and nutrients.  One of the most significant factors that contribute to the healthy benefits of fruit, vegetables, whole grains and legumes is dietary fibre. Fibre improves health by:

  • Slowing down digestion, which controls appetite and sustains energy levels
  • Reducing risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease
  • Promoting a healthy digestive system, which reduces the risk of colon cancer

Unfortunately, so many foods we eat today have been refined, which removes their fibre and as a result many of the beneficial nutrients are lost. (e.g Fruit juice, white bread, white rice, mealie meal, white flour-based products.)

Foods that are rich in protein such as meat, chicken, fish and eggs are an excellent source of B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, zinc and magnesium.  Fish, particularly naturally oily fish such as sardines, salmon, pilchards, trout and mackerel provide us with the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids.

It’s important to recognise that the healthy aspects of all of these great foods can be easily undermined by the addition of undesirable fats and salt and by adding crumbs, batters or creamy and oily sauces or gravies. So the trick is to ensure that your diet is balanced and contains a wide variety of different foods, eaten in their most wholesome, unrefined form, to provide you with all the different nutrients your body needs.

When it comes to filling, tasty, crunchy, nutrient-rich foods, the recommendations seem to be fairly consistent for all ages and from all areas of expertise:  Eat a variety of vegetables and fruit every day and generally more is better, so it’s a good idea to increase your intake where you can.

Most of us know that fruit and veggies are good for us but don’t always understand why, how much and what types we should be eating?

Why are vegetables and fruit good for us?
Fruit and veggies contain fibre, and a wide array of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins A, C, K, folate, magnesium and potassium and are rich in health promoting phytonutrients, antioxidants and other beneficial compounds. 

Low energy density & body weight management
Because fruit and veggies have high water and fibre content, they add extra weight to the food, making it more filling but with less kilojoules than energy-dense foods that doesn’t have the same water and fibre content. This helps manage weight.

Reduced risk of chronic diseases
Vegetables and fruit have also been found to reduce the risk of chronic diseases and medical conditions, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and insulin resistance syndrome. There is evidence that eating at least 2½ cups of vegetables and fruit daily has been linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks and strokes. And eating more fruit and vegetables can help reduce cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure.

The fibre, antioxidants, phytonutrients and other healthy compounds in vegetables and fruit provide important anti-cancer properties. Eating more vegetables and fruit has been associated with a lower risk of certain cancers, including cancer of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, stomach, lung, kidney, colon, rectum, ovary and bladder.

How much is enough and what types of vegetables and fruit should we eat?

Dietary guidelines recommend that we eat 8 servings (4 ½ cups) of vegetables and fruit daily.

While all vegetables and fruit have beneficial effects, dietary guidelines indicate that variety is key. There is no single vegetable or fruit that contains all the vitamins and minerals we need. By including a variety of different types and different colours in our diets, we can ensure that we obtain a wider range of vitamins and minerals.

When you prepare food yourself you can control exactly what goes into it, so there are no hidden surprises.  You can also use healthier cooking methods that can enhance the nutritional value of the meal. 

Compared to food cooked at home, restaurants, take away outlets, canteens and tuck shops generally make food that is refined and higher in fat, sugar and salt. 

And if you cook at home we suggest you avoid frying, even though it is generally seen as the quickest and easiest option, the problem is that it uses oils and fats which add unnecessary kilojoules to the meal.  

If you must use oil, some types are considered healthier choices:

 

Choose: liquid plant oils such as canola, sunflower, olive or avocado oil in small amounts as these are a source of monounsaturated fats which have numerous health benefits.

 

Avoid: butter, cream, coconut oil, palm kernel oil and brick margarine as these are high in saturated fats which can increase your risk of heart disease.

Other factors can contribute to excess fat in meals, including:

  • Crumbed products such as fish, fish cakes, fish fingers, chicken breasts, schnitzels, kievs, cordon bleus, calamari and mushrooms can still be very high in fat even if they are oven baked as they have “hidden” fats in the crumbs or batter.
  • Sauces made with cream, white sauce or cheese sauce are generally high in fat.  Choose a tomato-based napolitana or arabiata sauce. 
  • Bottled or ready-made sauces which contain “hidden” fats and oil.  Always look at labels and compare the fat content of different types and brands.
Rather try these healthier but still very delicious cooking ideas:  
  • Stir-fry in a non-stick pan with or without a small amount of oil or cooking spray.

  • Steam vegetables in a steamer or colander over boiling water.

  • Poach foods such as chicken or fish in milk or water.  Try adding herbs for different flavours.

  • Bake in an oven-proof dish or in a parcel made from foil.  Add tomatoes or lemon juice for moisture as well as herbs, onion or garlic for flavour.

  • Roast and grill using little or no oil or place meat or chicken on a rack to allow the fat to drip off the meat.

  • Microwaving is generally a quick and convenient option that allows for cooking from frozen or fresh and does not require adding more oil or fat.  

  • Low fat or fat free plain yoghurt makes for a healthier alternative to cream for sauces and dressings.

Adding seasoning and condiments to food during cooking enhances the flavour of a meal. However commonly used seasonings are often high in salt, which can cause or worsen high blood pressure.

Here are some simple tips for flavouring your food without salt:

 

  • Use chilli, curry powder, ground black pepper or other spices such as paprika, for an extra bite.  These all have strong flavours and so only small amounts are needed.

  • Other spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, turmeric and cumin can provide an intense flavour without the heat.

  • Garlic, ginger or lemon zest can transform a meal.

  • Add dried or fresh herbs such as coriander, thyme, oregano, basil, parsley, mint and rocket.  Growing a few of your favourite herbs at home is easy and does not require much space or very “green fingers”.

  • Cook with tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms and/or onions for alternative flavours.

  • Add a splash of wine, lemon juice or vinegar.

For more delicious recipes to whip up in your kitchen, click below...


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