Spinach is nutrient dense – high in vitamins and minerals, and low in calories. It is good for the heart with its abundance of vitamin C, vitamin B, iron, calcium and potassium. Spinach also contains folate which promotes a good cardiovascular system and its antioxidant contents reduce the free radicals in the body. This green vegetable has anti-inflammatory properties which aid in abating the symptoms of arthritis, osteoporosis, migraines and asthma. Spinach’s high water content means that it shrinks significantly when cooked, so don’t hold back on the portions when preparing this vegetable.
Kiwis are full of vitamin C. Two medium-sized kiwis contain almost 2.5 times more than the daily-required intake of vitamin C, which helps fight ageing and boosts the immune system. The vitamin E in this fruit can help to fight cancer-causing cells. Kiwis also contain high amounts of the hormone serotonin which aids digestive and cardiovascular functions. This boosts your mood, appetite, memory and ultimately aids in learning. Have kiwi either by itself, mix it in a nutritious salad, or consume it with other healthy fruits like strawberries and blueberries.
3. Kale (“Kai Lan” is a variety of kale)
Kale is surprisingly high in vitamin K, where one serving has more than six times the recommended daily intake of the vitamin! Vitamin K aids in blood clotting by helping specific proteins bind calcium. Without vitamin K, blood coagulation will be impaired. Along with that, kale has numerous cancer-fighting properties, including sulforaphane, a substance which alleviates the formation of cancer cells at molecular levels. This vegetable is also packed with antioxidants like vitamins A and C that boost the immune system. Kale is a member of the cabbage family and is best eaten in salads or packed in your sandwich.
Loaded with heart-friendly monosaturated and polysaturated fat, avocados (“7 Popular Picnic food ideas”) are great for keeping cholesterol and triglycerides levels low. The fruit can also reduce food intake by prolonging the feeling of being full. Studies show that people were less likely to reach for a snack hours after consuming avocados. The high potassium content it contains helps to reduce blood pressure which directly reduces the risk of heart attack, stroke and kidney failure. Avocados contain more potassium than that found in the same amount of bananas! Eat your avocado chopped and tossed into a salad, or in a fruit smoothie or if you are creative, even as a dessert.
5. Green Tea
Here’s why green tea is slated as one of the healthiest drinks in the world: It contains caffeine, but not in as intense amounts as coffee. It enhances brain function due to the amino acid L-theanine it has, and this can cross the blood-brain barrier. Green tea also burns fat by increasing metabolism and this is in part due to the caffeine that mobilises fat content to burn as energy. Lastly, green tea is also an excellent source of antioxidants and studies have shown that it reduces the likelihood of cancer.
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