Key nutrients are exactly what their name implies. They are the vital substances that provide nourishment essential for our bodies to grow and be maintained. If we follow a healthy balanced diet, we should already be getting a very good selection of the key nutrients but not all of us know exactly which ones we should be eating. Supplements are available for any of the key nutrients we might not be getting enough of, but in cash-strapped times, who wants to be spending hard-earned dollars on something you should be able to get if you eat properly? Plus, there’s no need to increase your grocery spending, because some of the cheapest foods contain plenty of our essential needs. Here are 7 Key Nutrients and How to Get Them From Food:
1. Vitamin a
The humble carrot is a much under-rated vegetable. You’ll be pleased to know that you can get more than 200% of your RDV (recommended daily value) for vitamin A from one medium sized raw carrot. If that doesn’t float your boat, you can get a smaller hit (just over 22% RDV) from an 8oz serving of tomato juice. (If you go for the tomato option, not only will you be ingesting one of your key nutrients but you’ll also be getting some of that lovely lycopene – a powerful anti-oxidant)
2. Vitamin B6
Most American households have a jar of peanut butter in the cupboard and now here’s the perfect excuse to eat it. B6 is one of the key nutrients you should get plenty of, because it is connected with serotonin production – aka the happiness hormone. Peanuts are a great source of B6 although you need to eat 2 tablespoons a day. If you can’t stomach peanut butter, a large, baked, red-skinned potato will provide half the daily dose you need.
3. Vitamin C
Vitamin c is one of the most important nutrients and many people fork out money to buy in supplement form, particularly in winter time as it is used as a defence mechanism against colds and flu. Generally, it is thought the best food to boost your intake of vitamin C is the orange, but scientifically, there are plenty other foods that contain a greater concentration of this key nutrient. These are, in order, chillies, guava, bell pepper, thyme, kale, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, kiwi fruit and papaya. Oranges still pack a hefty punch of vitamin c, so if you’re a fan, don’t give them up.
4. Vitamin D
If you drink 8oz of milk a day (on your cereal and in beverages), you’re already getting one quarter of your vitamin d RDV. If you’re not drinking enough, increase your intake. The other good thing about vitamin d is that it usually comes in tag team with calcium. If you’re drinking milk, you’re getting a double whammy of key nutrients. If you are lactose intolerant or don’t like milk, maybe you can eat a small can of tuna instead. This will supply you with +180% of your daily recommended dose. Vitamin d is necessary for healthy bones.
5. Vitamin E
If you want to look after your skin and also keep many of those nasty free radicals at bay, you need o be eating vitamin e rich foods. The top of this group is sunflower seeds. Make like a budgie and nibble them throughout the day – they make a much better snack than chips, cookies or chocolate. Almonds, peanuts and pine nuts will also do the job.
If you’re expecting a baby, you’ve probably had it hammered home how folate (or folic acid) is one of the key nutrients during pregnancy. It isn’t just this special time when it is important though – we all need it. One of the most budget-friendly foods with high folate content is lentils. Just one cup of lentils will provide 230% of your RDV. This is another food that delivers a double punch – lentils are also extremely rich in iron, necessary for energy and a sharp mind.
Magnesium is one of the key nutrients in the battle against heart disease, and is increasingly gaining status as one of the most important nutrients. Cheap foods that are high in magnesium include barley (try a risotto made from barley instead of rice – it’s surprisingly good) or have sweet potato mash instead of your usual potato.
As you can now see, key nutrients are present in very simple, every day foods that don’t cost the earth. By incorporating these into your diet, you won’t break the bank and you’ll be getting lots of lovely healthy things that do you good. There really is no need to spend money buying key nutrients, just do a better shop.
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