5 Healthy Foods That Are Actually Worth Splurging On
In today’s world, it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking in order to be healthy we need to be buying the latest superfoods. Superfoods are often touted for their high nutritional content and low-calorie count.
There’s no denying the latest greens powder or exotic imported berry can provide valuable health-promoting properties, but the issue lies in the fact that these foods often come with a hefty price tag. Good health is worth it, right? Yes… but not if it means that these superfoods are displacing other foundational foods in our diets that are more crucial to creating general wellbeing.
So, instead of splurging on green powders, fancy supplements and protein bars, here are five healthy foods a dietitian says you should actually splash your cash on.
5 Healthy Foods That Are Actually Worth the Splurge
1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
A staple in many of the world’s healthiest population groups, olive oil is an extremely potent source of beneficial fatty acids and antioxidants known to reduce inflammation and protect against various chronic diseases and minimise cognitive decline with age. It’s also a great source of vitamin E.
It's important to highlight that not all olive oils are created equal. There are three main grades of olive oil: extra virgin, virgin and refined. Refined olive oil, often labelled as Olive Oil is best avoided, as this may contain unhealthy trans fats due to the refining process. Extra virgin olive oil is the highest grade of the three; it uses better quality fruit and more minimal processing methods to extract the oil from the olives versus chemical or heat extraction. The result? A superior quality oil with more of the nutrients retained - and far better taste, too.
Choose the best quality you can afford and yes, Australian Extra Virgin Olive Oil is an excellent choice.
Let’s not beat about the bush - a peak at the price tag on a decent bag of nuts can be a bit of a slap in the face. However, nuts are one of those foods that we absolutely advocate opening the wallet for. Not only are nuts incredibly accessible, but they’re a very quick and easy way to boost your nutrition on-the-go or at work. The fat and protein content in nuts aids in maintaining more stable blood sugar levels throughout the day – hello longer lasting energy!
Maintaining normal blood sugar levels over time is also an important factor in reducing long term risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. In addition, nuts are a good source of dietary fibre, vitamin E, certain B vitamins, as well as magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium, selenium and phosphorus. Excuse us while we go grab a handful.
This humble grain really packs a nutrient-dense punch. Oats are a fantastic source of wholegrain carbohydrates that provide fibre for good bowel and gut health. They also give a good dose of protein and healthy fats, making them an excellent breakfast option to keep energy levels sustained throughout the morning. Oats have been shown to improve blood pressure, lower cholesterol and promote optimal blood sugar levels.
But that’s not all - oats are also rich in antioxidants and contain phosphorus, manganese, magnesium, iron, zinc and B vitamins. Translation? They’re absolutely worth spending your money on. Plus, they’re a very budget friendly option, usually costing between $1-5 per kilogram.
Fish has been shown to reduce the risk of diabetes, heart attacks, strokes and depression. The nutrients found in fish also help to optimise brain function in developing children, as well as maintaining cognitive capacity as we age.
Fish is filled with omega-3 fatty acids known as EHA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid); our body actually can’t produce these fatty acids itself, so it’s important to get them in adequate amounts through our diet. Fish also contains vitamin D, calcium and iodine, and is an excellent source of protein.
5. Fruits and veg
You might think this is a bit of a boring suggestion. Fruits and veg are a given, right? Perhaps, but the statistics are telling us right now that the clear majority of the Australian population is not meeting the recommended serves of fruits and vegetables per day required for good health. Please read that again: we’re not eating enough.
You probably already know fruits and vegetables provide an incredible spectrum of health-giving nutrients, but did you know the research suggests we should be eating at least 30 different types of plant foods per week to optimise our gut health? Our gut health and microbiome is linked to an improved immune system, better mental health, and reduced risk of heart disease, some cancers, arthritis and much more.
Eating an adequate amount and variety of plant foods exposes your microbiome to different types of fibre and nutrients, and thus, the more likely we will have healthy amounts of good bacteria in our microbiome.
So, before we reach for the latest powder, supplement or gorgeously-packaged snack ball, let’s nail the basics first. Splurge on good quality, splurge on variety and splurge on wholefoods that pack the real nutritional punch.
Explore more content like this in our series, Ask a Dietitian.
Health & Performance Collective is the brainchild of Sydney Dietitians Jessica Spendlove and Chloe McLeod. They use their 20 years of combined knowledge and skills as dietitians to work with motivated people to live and perform at their best.