Friday, December 15, 2017

Healthy eating for the New Year


BUYING BANANAS: Customers buying bananas from a vendor. —Photos: Stephen Doobay

Mark Fraser

Many people take the opportunity to make resolutions for the New Year. Whether it is to lose weight or to pick up a new hobby, people also see the New Year as a time of renewal. These promises or resolutions can be about anything and many people use it as a guide or pattern to follow for the rest of the year.

During the Christmas season it is customary to consume a lot of food. In the season of merriment many people often find themselves eating too much of the wrong things which can put them at risk to experience possible health complications later down the road.

However before the actual renewal process can begin many people seek to purge and cleanse their bodies of all impurities. For some people it is not just a matter of detoxing the body but also the mind and spirit and feeding it with healthy nutrients that can also help nourish and protect the body from disease in order to maintain optimum health.

In order to keep healthy, be aware and watch what you eat. Registered dietitians Kimberly Suraj, Sharelene Bridglal and Ambika Boodhu are based at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex in Mt Hope and shared the importance of having a balanced diet.

Giving us some food for thought, Suraj, Bridglal and Boodhu gave a few suggestions about foods you should try and consume a lot more in 2014.

They noted while having a balanced diet is essential to leading a healthy life, certain foods stand out in their nutrient density.


Vegetables are very high in fibre and micronutrients. Spinach, especially, is high in vitamins A and C, magnesium and folate. The carotenoids found in spinach-beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin-can boost the immune system and also are protective against age-related vision diseases, such as macular degeneration and night blindness, as well as heart disease and certain cancers.


Legumes, such as red beans and split peas, are high in fibre and also contain protein and other nutrients such as calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Studies tie beans to a reduced risk of heart disease; type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and breast and colon cancers.


Almonds are also packed with calories and nutrients such as fibre, riboflavin, magnesium, iron and calcium. Most of the fat in almonds is monounsaturated fat which is a healthier type of fat that may help lower blood cholesterol levels.


Oats are a good source of soluble fibre, and can help lower cholesterol and promote satiety or feeling satisfied.


Yogurt is high in calcium and a good source of protein, and also rich in healthy gut bacteria. It should also be more easily digested, for those of you who are lactose intolerant.


Fish, such as salmon, is a rich source of vitamin D and one of the best sources of omega-3s. These essential fatty acids have a wide range of health benefits, from preventing heart disease to encouraging healthy skin to boosting your mood and minimising the effects of arthritis.

Sweet potato

Sweet potato is one of the best ways to get vitamin A—an essential nutrient that protects and maintains eyes, skin, and the linings of our respiratory, urinary, and intestinal tracts. Foods containing beta-carotene, which your body converts into the vitamin, include carrots, squash, kale, and cantaloupe. Instead of the usual fries, have baked sweet potatoes instead and you’re good to go.


Garlic, a relative of the onion, is packed with flavour and is a health food hero in its own right. It contains more than 70 active phytochemicals, including allicin, which has been shown to help decrease high blood pressure by as much as 30 points. According to a research review in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition a high consumption of garlic lowered rates of ovarian, colorectal, and other cancers and helps to fight