10 Small Steps Towards A Healthier Diet
Eating well doesn’t have to be complicated. If you get the basics right, and keep them relatively consistent, you can then add in the extra bits to optimise your health with food. Here are some areas that you may wish to focus on this year.
1. Eat a more plant-based diet
The term “plant-based diet” has not been officially defined. However, it does emphasize vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds. When a person eats more plants, they eat more fibre, vitamin C, potassium and phytocompounds as well as less sugar, saturated fat and salt.
There is a tonne of health benefits to eating more plants. For example, it would reduce the risk of high blood pressure, cholesterol levels and body weight as well as reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.
A plant-based meal contains lots of fruit and vegetables, some wholegrain carbohydrates and a protein source that may be from plants or animals. Saba uses this concept for the majority of its meals. Most meals have the option of choosing fish or tofu as the protein option if it better fits with a person’s values, taste preference or if it is simply the preferred option. In addition, Saba has created lots of tasty vegan meals if exclusively-plant based meals are what you’re after.
2. Consider adding more turmeric to your meals
Turmeric comes from a plant related to ginger. It’s a common spice and an important ingredient in curries. Its primary active ingredients, curcuminoids, are yellow and give foods a lovely colour. Over the years there has been a lot of research, including studies done in people, on turmeric for a variety of health conditions. It’s still early days, but preliminary studies found that curcuminoids may be beneficial in helping to control pain, inflammation, and healing. Adding in black pepper to the meal has been shown to help with the bioavailability of its important compounds so perhaps aim to combine the two! Fort turmeric rich meals why not try Saba’s Gaeng Karee Fuktong or the Caveman.
3. Consider drinking more green tea
Interestingly, green, black, and oolong teas all come from the same plant, but are prepared using different methods. To produce green tea, fresh leaves from the plant are lightly steamed. There’s evidence that green tea enhances mental alertness, as would be expected because of its caffeine content.
There are other studies that suggest that both green and black tea might have beneficial effects on some heart disease risk factors, including blood pressure and cholesterol. Although not likely to replace medications when they are required, they may be a healthy addition to your diet if your focus is improved heart health. Fancy trying it to see if you like it? Why not order it with your next Saba meal.
4. Eat more soya
Soya foods such as tofu and miso are eaten more and more in Ireland. Soybeans are high in protein, polyunsaturated fats, plant omega-3 fat ALA, fibre as well as vitamins and minerals. Nutritionally speaking, they really are impressive! They are also the main source of isoflavones in our diets. While isoflavones are more famous for their benefits in reducing certain symptoms of menopause, eating more soya foods has been shown to lower cholesterol. Some studies have shown that soya is good for our bones. Part of the reason for this could be protein that soya provides or the calcium that it usually contains. If you fancy trying tofu to see if you like it, and perhaps are nervous cooking it at home for the first time, why not ask for tofu in your next Saba meal? It’ll be cooked by experts, so you’re more likely going to have a positive first experience!
5. Eat more vegetables!
I think the power of eating more vegetables is under-rated. You could argue that it’s a matter of life or death. Risking being too serious for a moment, it’s worth noting that approximately 3% of deaths worldwide are attributable to not eating enough fruit and vegetables. Quite a startling figure! So, what makes them so important?
There are many health boosting properties within fruit and vegetables. They are bursting with antioxidant vitamins A, C and E. These vital nutrients have many health benefits from healthy gums, regenerating other vitamins, helping to absorb certain minerals and even helping to keep our energy levels stable. Fruit and vegetables also contain huge amounts of phytocompounds which is a fancy name for the plant nutrients they contain. These nutrients are often what give the individual fruit or vegetable their own special health-boosting power.
If you did want to eat more vegetables, the majority of Saba’s meals contain lots of vegetables. The stir fries are particular high in vegetables with the option of including more vegetables on the side of your meal available.
6. Consider eating more garlic!
Garlic is the edible bulb from a plant in the lily family. A great deal of research has been done on garlic, although mostly small studies. Some evidence suggests that garlic may lower blood cholesterol levels and may be helpful for high blood pressure. Therefore, it’s often associated with heart healthy benefits. The American Institute Cancer Research recognizes fresh garlic as one of several vegetables with potential anticancer properties. The variety of phytochemicals such as allicin it contains have shown some cancer-fighting properties within the lab setting. Although never an alternative to traditional medicine, it might be an idea to include some garlic in your cooking and favourite meals. Of course, there’s no one food that reduces cancer risk. It’s your pattern of eating that counts. Choosing mostly plant foods, with a sprinkle of garlic, may help! If you don’t like garlic, why not include other vegetables from the allium family including onions, shallots, leeks and chives!
7. Try new foods
Variety is so important, particularly when it comes to feeding the gut! It’s important to eat a varied diet so that the gut bacteria and microbiome eat a varied diet too! Bacteria can have a preferred part of each plant that they like to eat. So, it’s important to eat a varied diet so that lots of the different types of bacteria within the gut are delivered their preferred meal.
Variety is also important when it comes to ensuring you’re eating all the nutrients your body requires to be adequately nourished. Many of us fall victims to the same meals on repeat. Eating out is a wonderful opportunity to eat foods you never buy, never cook or never even think of eating at home! As there is a lot of variety on Saba’s menu, why not use it as an opportunity to be inspired and broaden your food horizons.
8. Eat more antioxidants
Often people think that antioxidants come from fruits and vegetables. They’re not wrong! However, they might be missing out of the benefits of herbs and spices which are also jam-packed full of antioxidants. This is one the reasons eating Thai cuisine can be a super healthy choice.
So why are antioxidants so important? Antioxidants engulf free radicals in the body. Free radicals are highly unstable molecules that are naturally formed when you exercise and when your body converts food into energy. Your body can also be exposed to free radicals from things within the environment such as cigarette smoke, air pollution and even sunlight. Therefore, these natural substances help prevent or delay some types of cell damage. Oxidative stress is also thought to play a role in a variety of diseases including cancer, heart diseases and diabetes. So make sure to eat lots of different fruits and vegetables as well as lots of herbs and spices!
9. When eating out, eat higher quality food
Eating out can be socialable, convenient and extremely enjoyable. However, it can also have negative implications on your health if the food that is being served isn’t of the highest quality. High quality meals are made from scratch and are jam-packed with wholefoods rather than processed foods. Saba pride themselves in cooking everything from scratch, using the highest quality ingredients. In fact, most of their vegetables are bought locally from Irish farmers. However, as an authentic Thai restaurant, if the ingredients can’t be grown in Ireland, they are brought in from Thailand.
10. When eating out, be mindful of your waist line!
Eating out can mean eating high-calorie meals. With more Irish people overweight than a healthy weight, lots of us are conscious of what we eat and how much. Lots of restaurants have chosen to add calories to their menu to allow people to make informed decisions. Saba chose to do this, and to supply the breakdown of nutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates, fat, and fibre. By providing this level of detail the meals can be chosen to better fit the person’s preferred dietary pattern, if that is something they chose. This information allows the customer to make an informed decision. It’s always great news when your favourite meal isn’t super high in calories and is a great source of fibre.