It's so easy and convenient to reach for junk food when we are hungry or want to satisfy a craving. There are healthy foods that are just as tasty as your favourite junk food, as easy to prepare and have so many health benefits. Below are a few I recommend to be a pleasant change from your typical junk food treat.
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Healthy Alternatives To Junk Food That You Need To Know
1. Dark Chocolate
Some good news for chocolate lovers. Most of us have heard dark chocolate is incredibly healthy and can help prevent several diseases. It's full of antioxidants and fibre, including minerals like copper, magnesium, iron, and manganous. In addition, dark chocolate contains compounds that can improve brain functionality, blood pressure, harmful UV rays and heart disease. Dark chocolate with a cocoa content of at least 70–85% is ideal and gives that perfect taste and the mentioned health benefits. A piece of dark chocolate is incredibly delicious and satisfying.
Cheese is regarded by many as delicious food. The great news is cheese is highly nutritious, there is an abundance of calcium, selenium, zinc, vitamin B12 and phosphorus. Dairy products like cheese have been noted to protect against osteoporosis and bone health. Cheeses are diverse in type and taste but share similarities consisting of fat and protein. They are calorie-dense but can be enjoyed in moderation. Cheese may assist in the absorption of minerals and may promote lower blood pressure. In addition to the health benefits, cheese is simply very tasty. Imagine a pizza or lasagne without the cheese. It would not be the same.
Yogurt is a fermented dairy product and is considered by many to be both healthy and delicious. It contains high levels of calcium which is great for bone strength, several vitamins and quality proteins. Eating yogurt has been linked to both reduced blood pressure and improved bone health. In addition, some yogurt contains active cultures of bacteria that are beneficial to the digestive tract, known as probiotics. Probiotic bacteria has been linked to improving digestion, immunity, improved cholesterol and digestive benefits. Just make sure to avoid yogurt loaded with sugar and look for natural yogurt and add some fruit for extra taste.
Almonds are the perfect snack. They are very nutritious, are high in fat that promotes heart health, and require no preparation. Almonds are loaded with fibre, protein, several vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin E and magnesium, and antioxidants. It is suggested they can reduce cholesterol, blood pressure, and the oxidation of LDL cholesterol — thus minimizing risk factors associated with heart disease. Almonds are high in calories and fat but are also very satisfying/filling. The sensation of satiety has been linked with weight loss, so eating almonds in moderation can help you reduce weight.
Pistachios are considered by many to be the King of nuts and are absolutely mouth-watering. They are high in protein, fibre and are loaded with heart-healthy fats. They're also a great source of potassium, phosphorus, iron and vitamin B. Pistachios have been associated with health benefits, such as reduced oxidized LDL (bad) cholesterol improving blood fats, blood sugar levels and inflammation. Pistachios may aid in weight maintenance when consumed in moderation as they are very filling. Again, like almonds, the key is moderation as they are high in calories.
If you like eating dips, hummus will be your healthy friend. It's made of chickpeas usually mixed with lemon juice, paprika, sesame seed paste (tahini), cumin, olive oil and a touch of salt all mashed together. It has a similar texture to mashed potato and is excellent healthy comfort food. Chickpeas are high in protein fibre, protein, and are rich in various vitamins and minerals, including copper folate, magnesium, thiamine, manganese, and vitamin B6.
Studies suggest hummus can significantly reduce fasting insulin — an important marker of blood sugar levels. It has also need noted that chickpeas can reduce LDL cholesterol which has been linked to heart disease.
Avocados are great for adding rich flavour, have a smooth and creamy texture and are a fatty fruit. They are abundant in healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, fibre, antioxidants and a great source of B, C, E, and K vitamins, potassium, copper. They have been observed to raise HDL Cholesterol (the good cholesterol) and reduce triglycerides ( a bad cholesterol). Avocados help with weight loss as they are very filling, so the next time you want to add some rich flavour to a salad, reach for an avocado.
Blueberries taste great and are low in calories. They are also rich in many vitamins and are packed with antioxidants. Blueberries have often been labelled a superfood because they are so abundant in antioxidants. They are great with a low sugar dessert, yogurt or cream.
I had to include one tropical fruit, and that would be mango. Rich in a wide range of antioxidants, soluble fibre, and vitamin A and vitamin C. So many benefits, but we simply cannot overlook the fantastic taste. Mangos are relatively low in calories and have a glycaemic index (GI) that should not cause an insulin or blood sugar spike. Mangoes reduce the risk of many chronic diseases, including cancer, and prevent oxidative damage. Fresh mangoes are mouth-watering and are great when added to porridge or breakfast cereals, or yogurt.
10. Lean Meats
Last and definitely not least are lean meats. Quality meat produce is high in protein, and red meat is usually a rich source of iron. Chicken, beef, game meats go well with so many dishes and gourmet patties or sausages often have less fat than supermarket variety, so don't forget lean meats.