The Slim Down

The healthy superfoods you should be eating

Yahoo! nutritionist Rachael Anne Hill identifies four nutrient-packed, super-healthy foods we should be eating but are often forgotten about.

Quinoa

Although commonly referred to as a grain, quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is actually a seed.  Available from most good health stores and supermarkets, it can be cooked and eaten in much the same way as rice and contains all the essential amino acids (the amino acids your body can't make) so it is an excellent source of complete protein for vegans and vegetarians.

Quinoa is low in fat but rich in cholesterol-lowering fibre and is a good source of B vitamins needed for repair of body cells and an efficient metabolism.  Quinoa contains energy-giving iron too (the mineral women are most likely to be deficient in), calcium for strong bones and potassium, which can help to reduce high blood pressure. It's also a good source of magnesium, which can reduce the frequency of headaches by helping to relax the blood vessels that supply the brain.  In short, quinoa is a super-healthy super food and introducing it to your diet is a smart and tasty choice.

Cold pressed rapeseed oil

Cold pressed rapeseed oil (cold pressed means the oil is naturally extracted from the plant at room temperature without the addition of any chemicals) has balanced levels of omega 3, 6 and 9. Together these make up the essential fatty acids vital for lowering cholesterol, reducing inflammation that can cause heart disease and premature ageing, boosting the immune system and nourishing skin, hair, bones and joints. It also has half the saturated fat and ten times the omega 3 content of olive oil and is an excellent source of skin-enhancing vitamin E.

Cook with it, drizzle sparingly over salads, rice or pasta dishes or mix with balsamic vinegar, garlic and a little honey for a really delicious salad dressing.

[Related feature: Why whole grains are a great superfood]

Crab

Crab is a slimmer's dream because it's low in calories (a four ounce serving of crab meat has only 98 calories), full of flavour and with under two grams of fat per serving, it's heart-healthy too.

Despite its low calorie content, it is a great source of protein so it's a really filling and satisfying food.  Crab is also a good source of omega 3s which help to lower triglycerides and blood pressure along with reducing the risk of heart disease.

Omega 3s are also thought to reduce inflammation, enhance immune function and even lower the risk of certain types of cancer. Try topping a salad with flakes of fresh crab meat or alternatively add tinned crab meat to fish cakes or fish pies.

Radishes

These hot tasting little vegetables are members of the cruciferous family and owe their pungent flavour to super nutrients called glucosinolates that are also found in broccoli and cabbage. Glucosinolates help to boost detoxing enzymes in the liver, have anti-cancer properties and aid digestion. Radishes contain just one calorie each and come packaged up with plenty of hunger-combating fibre so they are great for the waistline.  Chomping your way through just ten radishes will provide you with 25% of your daily vitamin C and their leaves, which are also edible, contain six times more. Add them to summer salads for an extra peppery kick or dip them into hummus and tzatziki.