You have probably been told at least once that you need to reduce on processed foods and eat more of real foods to keep healthy, yet you have a challenge of what real food is. Read on.
“Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.” Michael Pollan
In my earlier post on total lifestyle change (here) one of the things I advocated for is that we need to move away from processed foods and eat more of natural/real foods so as to reduce, if not eliminate, risk factors of developing chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart problems, among others.
So what is real food? This is food that is as close to its natural and original state without any alterations. It is food that is not artificially created but either grown in soil or has a mother. Consider it as food your great grandmother ate before food processing emerged.
On the other hand processed foods are those that have been chemically altered, made from artificial ingredients which can adversely affect your health. (I will tackle this in detail in a different post).
Below is a list of real foods every African woman should not only include in her diet but also influence her entire family to adopt to lead to healthier families and in return healthier societies. I picked on familiar foods we can easily find across our continent.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
Examples: oranges, apples, pineapples, watermelons, pears, all berries, bananas, mangoes, apricots, avocadoes, plums, pawpaw, etc
Examples of vegetables: kales, cabbages, amaranth greens, cowpea leaves, cassava leaves, pumpkin and pumpkin leaves, sweet potato leaves, etc
Stick to what is locally found and always buy what is in season to enjoy freshness.
Fruits and vegetables have important vitamins, minerals, fibre and plant chemicals that protect you from cancer, diabetes and heart diseases.
- Whole grains
Examples: brown bread, brown rice, millet, whole wheat flour, whole maize flour, oats, beans, corn, sweet potatoes
Replacing refined grains with whole grains will help lower blood cholesterol levels, decrease heart disease risks and gives you high fibre which helps in digestion.
- Nuts and seeds
Examples of nuts: peanuts, cashewnuts, macadamia nuts, almonds
Examples of seeds: chia seeds, flax nuts, black seeds
Nuts and seeds not only have proteins, fibre, good fats but also antioxidants and vitamin E.
- Fish and sea food
Examples: tilapia, small fish, salmon, shell fish
Fish and sea food are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids good for your bones and brain. However eat in moderation to avoid mercury.
Examples: raw honey, cane sugar, dates, palm coconut sugar
These sweeteners are much better than processed sugar.
Examples: avocado oil, coconut oil, sesame oil
The above are good for cooking other foods.
Examples: whole milk, plain yoghurt
Ensure the animals that give this milk are grass-fed.
Examples: water, freshly squeezed juice, coconut milk, tea, coffee
Take water in plenty but reduce on tea and coffee
Eggs are an important source of proteins, minerals such as zinc and copper as well as good for the brain. The best eggs to take are those from pasture/worm-fed, free roaming chickens.
- Animal meats
Examples: chicken, lamb, game meat, pork, turkey
Take these in moderation and ensure the animals are grass fed/free-roaming e.g. chicken. If in doubt, eat very minimal.
All the above are real foods that if eaten in balance and moderation, can go a long way in impacting our wellbeing as a whole. Remember, proper nutrition repairs our body cells, detoxifies our bodies and prevent disease making real food the greatest medicine.
My rule usually is start small especially if you are used to eating processed foods. For example you may replace eating chips every day to making it a Friday treat. Also the next time you are stocking your foods again, intentionally replace five processed foods with real foods e.g. whole grains.
I wish you all the best in this transition and remember, we are in it together. Our motivation at AfricanWoman101 is health is wealth. May God help us enjoy good health and a life of abundance in all aspects.
Key words: real food, processed food, natural, chronic diseases, diet, health, healthy living, African woman, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, cancer