A leading nutritionist has revealed the top five plant-based foods to include in your diet every week to maintain health all year around.
Fiona Tuck, from Sydney, said consuming a wide range of vegetables, legumes and wholegrains is important to ensure the body is getting essential vitamins, nutrients and fibre.
‘We know that different foods contain different prebiotics and phytonutrients, hence diversity is important,’ Fiona told FEMAIL.
Sydney nutritionist Fiona Tuck (pictured) said consuming a wide range of vegetables, legumes and wholegrains is important to ensure the body is getting essential vitamins and nutrients
Fiona’s pick – Broccoli
First, Fiona mentioned it’s vital to incorporate ‘cruciferous vegetables’ into your diet – foods from the cabbage family.
These plant-based foods can include broccoli, kale, cauliflower, cabbage and brussel sprouts, which are a good source of nutrients a fibre.
‘Cruciferous vegetables provide a super food plant compound called sulforaphane which has been shown to have an array of important protective health benefits,’ Fiona said.
These foods also contain high sources of vitamin A and C to help lower risk of inflammation and prevent illness.
Her cruciferous vegetable of choice was the humble broccoli because it’s high in fibre, low in calories and rich in vitamins C and K.
‘Broccoli contains minerals such as choline which helps blood sugar levels, it’s also anti-inflammatory, supports liver health and detoxification, and may even help protect against certain cancers,’ Fiona said.
First, Fiona mentioned it’s vital to incorporate cruciferous vegetables into your diet – plants from the cabbage family. These plant-based foods can include broccoli, kale, cauliflower, cabbage and brussel sprouts, which are a good source of nutrients a fibre
Fiona’s top five pantry staples
Extra Virgin Olive oil
Frozen mixed berries
Dried herbs and spices – chilli, rosemary and turmeric
Fiona’s pick – Chickpeas
Fiona dubbed legumes as one of the ‘healthiest plant-based foods’ that offer a variety of benefits.
‘Legumes offer prebiotic and resistant starch benefits which help fuel the beneficial microbes in our gut,’ she said.
Legumes not only help keep your bowel healthy but help lower cholesterol levels.
They are also broken down slowly, meaning you will stay fuller for longer.
Fiona’s legume of choice is chickpeas – which can be purchased wet or dry at supermarkets.
‘Chickpeas as incredibly versatile and can be added to salads, soups, stews and made into hummus for healthy snacking,’ she said.
‘Chickpeas are rich in nutrients such as fibre, potassium, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, and selenium, supports gut and heart health.’
Fiona’s pick – Oats
You should also include wholegrains, such as oats, barley and rye, in your weekly diet.
Fiona said wholegrains are rich in fibre, prebiotic and beta-glucan to promote gut health and heart health.
Oats was Fiona’s wholegrain of choice as it’s an ingredient that can be added to smoothies, baked goods or soaked overnight for breakfast.
A fabulous source of fibre, oats help gut health, heart health, blood sugar balance may help lower cholesterol as part of a healthy diet,’ she said.
Fiona dubbed legumes as one of the ‘healthiest plant-based foods’ that offer a variety of benefits
Fiona’s pick – Flaxseeds
To boost brain health and reduce the risk of inflammatory disease, Fiona recommended eating plant-based foods high in omega 3.
Nuts and seeds such as flaxseed, chia, hemp and walnuts are rich in omega 3 and can be consumed instead of oily fish as a plant-based alternative.
Fiona said flaxseeds are a skin, hair, hormone, and digestive system ‘superfood’.
‘Packed with nutrients including lignans, antioxidants, fibre, protein, and polyunsaturated fatty acids such as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), or omega-3, flaxseeds may help lower cholesterol and relieve constipation as part of a healthy diet,’ she said.
Fiona’s pick – Spinach
To maintain health throughout the changing seasons, Fiona’s final recommendation is to fill your plate with a side of green vegetables.
Spinach, green beans, cabbage and kale are said to be the ‘healthiest’ of the list of green vegetables.
‘Spinach is another good source of vitamins and minerals such as beta carotene – a skin-loving nutrient – and iron, plus phytochemicals that may help inflammation and disease protection,’ she said.
How to make Fiona Tuck’s Moroccan Chickpea Stew:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 brown onion, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely sliced
1 red capsicum, finely diced
1 thumbnail size of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
200g tinned chopped tomatoes
1 x 400g can organic chickpeas
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon dried chilli flakes (or to your taste)
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 large handfuls of washed spinach leaves, chopped
Small handful each of fresh coriander and parsley leaves, washed and finely chopped
Squeeze of lemon juice
Brown rice or cauliflower rice, for serving
Add the oil to a non-stick pan then add the garlic, onion, celery, capsicum and gently cook until softened.
Stir through the ginger and the spices, then add the stock, tomatoes and chickpeas.
Cook over a medium heat for about 20 minutes or until the mixture has thickened.
Add the peas and spinach and stir until the peas are cooked through and the spinach has wilted.
Remove from the heat and stir through the coriander, parsley and lemon juice.
Serve with cauliflower rice or brown rice.