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This much abused vegetable contains many nutrients such as folate, vitamins A, C and K, plus calcium.
Broccoli is also high in sulforaphane, an antioxidant considered to be protective against cancer as well as helpful in protecting the eyes from macular degeneration.
Mash with potato, sprinkle a few fl orets on a pizza or add to a cheese sauce. Stir fry with linguine and prawns and a little soy or garlic sauce.
These shellfi sh are bursting with vitamin C and zinc, boosting the immune system and helping wounds heal.
They are also low in calories so are a great starter when eating out.
Oysters have a salty taste but it’s the unusual, chewy texture that often upsets sensitive palates. Traditionally they are served raw with lemon, Tabasco or a little shallot vinaigrette.
Grill lightly or bake rather than eating raw. Alternatively add a few to a stew.
High in healthy monounsaturated oils, olives are an important part of the Mediterranean diet which is associated with reduced heart disease and living a long life.
The bitter taste associated with olives comes from oleocanthal, a plant compound which is considered to be an anti- infl ammatory.
Start with sweeter varieties, mash to make a tasty dip or opt for olives stuffed with peppers or lemon.
This leafy green has a slightly bitter and metallic taste due to its high iron content.
It is this iron which helps produce the red blood cells responsible for keeping oxygen fl owing around the body.
Spinach is also packed with vitamin K which is necessary for blood clotting and also good for bone health. Other phytonutrients found in spinach are thought to protect against breast and prostate cancer.
Use a big bunch for juicing with other vegetables and an apple for a touch of sweetness. Lightly steamed spinach tends to have a milder taste than boiled. Eat fresh in salads or sprinkle with olive oil and
Recent health claims suggest beetroot can help lower blood pressure and prevent dementia.
Nitrates in this red root vegetable open blood vessels and can boost exercise performance by delaying muscle fatigue. Try beetroot baked in the oven or shred and mix into a salad. Make borscht ( Russian beetroot soup) or mix pickled beetroot with mackerel. Beetroot juice has a sweeter taste. Often left rolling around the Christmas dinner plate, sprouts are high in vitamins C and K as well as glucosinolates, which can protect against some forms of cancer. They are also high in fi bre and benefi cial to the gut and immune system.
Chop fi nely and fry with pieces of bacon, chestnuts or pancetta. The smell is less powerful than when boiling and there’s a more subtle taste. With an odour reputed to repel vampires, garlic also has impressive health claims.
It has a long history of being used as an anti- inflammatory and protecting the heart. Garlic contains selenium which can also help to combat prostate cancer.
PRESENTATION CAN BE KEY TO CHANGING A HABIT
IT’S NOT just taste that determines our love- hate relationship with everyday foods.
Appearance, smell and texture are just a few of the other factors which play a part. There is also evidence that some of us inherit an aversion to some foods from our parents, while a bad early experience can turn us off a type of food for a lifetime.
“Almost all the senses have a role in varying degrees,” says Cindy Beeren of Leatherhead Food Research. “Taste is number one but strong smells and unusual textures are also signifi cant.”
The overpowering aroma is often given as the main reason for disliking fi sh. We are born with an innate liking for sweet foods and a suspicion of bitter tastes.
“If you give a baby sugar it will often smile,” Cindy explains. “We carry a sweet tooth into adulthood.”
Children also have a fear of new foods and it’s a trait that some of us retain, always refusing to be adventurous.
Many adults have never tried olives because they were not part of their childhood diet. For others, one bad experience such as a school dinner or soggy sprouts at Christmas can cloud our view.
In either case, changing an opinion is diffi cult. “When it comes to food, people can be very stubborn but habits can be changed over time,” says Cindy.
“Repeated exposure to a food type is one method. Even just seeing that food on someone else’s plate can make a difference.
“Social pressure is another factor. If everyone else is eating a certain food you are more likely to try it.
“We’re also more likely to eat foods we’re not sure about if they are beautifully presented on the plate. Plenty of colour works well.”