When we are feeling down, we often indulge in comfort foods as a mean to help lift our spirits. Are these some of the comfort foods that you would eat – ice-cream, chocolates and potato chips – to give yourself that “pick-me-up” feeling? These comfort foods may be able to give a boost to your spirits but at the same time, they would also boost your weight by adding fat and calories and they have low nutritional value.
Below is a list of comfort foods that can help to made us feel better and stay healthy at the same time.
Dried Apricots are delicious as snacks as they have a rich, sweet tart flavour. With every bite of the dried fruit, you are helping your body fight infection, repair damaged tissues, build strong teeth and bones and improve your eyesight. Apricots are naturally fat and cholesterol-free and a good source of dietary fiber and potassium.
Miso Soup with Tofu
A hot bowl of miso soup with tofu will surely lift your spirits. This delicious soup has lots of health benefits which include reduced risks of breast, lung, prostate and colon cancer and protection from radiation. Miso strengthens the immune system to combat infection and its high antioxidant activity gives it anti-aging properties. It is also loaded with other nutrients such as protein, vitamin B12, vitamin B2, vitamin E, vitamin K, choline, linoleic acid, lecithin, and dietary fiber. Miso can also help to chase away “menstrual blues” as it is able to fill estrogen receptors and produce some of the actions of estrogen in the body. The tofu in the miso soup not only adds taste but also have health benefits as it is high in protein, low in saturated fats and a good source of calcium as well as vitamin E.
If you love chocolates, choose dark chocolate which has far more antioxidants than milk or white chocolate. The antioxidants in dark chocolate derived from the flavonoids found in cocoa protect blood vessels from undergoing oxidative changes that result in certain diseases. A small bar of dark chocolate everyday can help keep your heart and cardiovascular system running well. Apart from protecting your heart, dark chocolate also stimulates endorphin production which gives a feeling of pleasure and serotonin which acts as an anti-depressant.
The frozen variety tastes pretty similar to its ice cream counterpart, only with less fat. Yoghurt is a useful source of calcum and phosphorus for strong bones and teeth. By adding fruit, you’re only adding more minerals and vitamins. Cool and soothing, this comfort food is a perfect snack, yet tastes sweet enough to ease your pain.
Nuts are easy and accessible comfort foods. They are also rich in vitamins and minerals, all energy boosters and stress busters. The top four healthiest nuts to consume are almonds, walnuts, pecan and cashew nuts.
Containing high levels of healthy monounsaturated fats, almonds help in reducing cholesterol levels and improving cardiovascular health. The magnesium in almonds can be especially calming.
Walnuts are a great source of omega-3 essential fatty acids which protect the heart, improve cognitive function and reduce inflammatory effects of asthma, eczema, psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Pecans contain an abundance of nutrients (over 19 minerals and vitamins) including folic acid, vitamin A, calcium, magnesium, copper, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, vitamin B and zinc. Like almonds and walnuts, pecans provide heart-healthy properties by reducing total blood cholesterol, reduce LDL cholesterol, and create clearer arterial flow.
Cashews are rich in magnesium, copper, iron, zinc and biotin. Cashews contain the lowest percentage of fats compared to most nuts and provide high levels of oleic acid (about 50% of the total fat in cashews), the same fat found in olive oil.
Other notable nuts that provide nutritional benefits and healthy sources of fats are hazelnuts, peanuts, chestnuts, pistachios and macadamias.
Nuts can also be filling, helping a person stave off hunger and thus, regulate blood sugar. Most nuts are consumed on their own, by the handful, which can easily lead to consuming lots of extra calories. Avoid mindless eating by pre-portioning your nuts in small bags.
If you have any healthy comfort foods, feel free to add to the list.
You can also check out this website for recipes for 20 classic comfort foods which are as flavourful as the original dishes, but contain significantly reduced levels of fat, cholesterol and sodium to help you on your way to a heart-healthy lifestyle.