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5 minutes with Michelle Bridges

When it comes to superfoods, diet and fitness expert Michelle Bridges believes you don't have to schlep to Nepal or spend a lot of money to get bang for your buck.

5 minutes with Michelle Bridges

Why did you decide to focus on superfoods in your latest book? 

I picked out the foods that have the absolute, highest, maximum, bang for your buck as far as nutrition is concerned. The other aspect that I maintain about superfoods is that they need to be accessible. I don’t want to have to schlep to Nepal for goji berries and pay thousands of dollars for the experience, I want to be able to rock up to my supermarket and know that I can pick up a bunch of superfoods inexpensively.

The more colour the better, when it comes to superfoods it means lots of nutrients. Green means go

What are your top 10 superfoods?

Oh gosh, it’s like choosing children…

  1. Green Kale or Spinach – the number one, without question, is anything green; they are hands down the ultimate superfoods.
  2. Mushrooms – they are right up there when it comes to antioxidants and helping your cells fight against chronic disease by boosting your body’s immunity. They’re also virtually fat-free and quite hearty.
  3. Berries – berries of any description are packed full of antioxidants and are really powerful when it comes to fighting bacteria, help with cardiovascular health, full of fibre, great for digestion and skin and not high in calories at all. You can eat a punnet of strawberries and it will only set you back 60 calories. Plus they are super-sweet and yummy!
  4. Kiwifruit – a lot of people don’t realise kiwifruit contain more vitamin C then oranges. If you can, try and eat the skin as its full of good nutrients and fibre.
  5. Salmon – salmon is a fantastic protein as it’s full of fatty acids and great for brain function.
  6. Chia seeds – they’re full of Omega-3, they’re gluten free and a great source of protein, fibre and antioxidants.
  7. Flax seeds – packed with of brain-boosting nutrients and antioxidants and fibre. They also contain high levels of beneficial vitamin E.
  8. Sardines – another great protein, oily fish is a winner when it comes to nutrition.
  9. Chickpeas – fabulous legume that’s so versatile to use in a number of ways.
  10. Yoghurt – when it comes to dairy you can’t look past yoghurt. 

The raw food movement is huge at the moment, how does cooking affect, or not, the nutritional value of superfoods?

It certainly can! Which is why these day, instead of boiling our veggies like our parents and grandparents used to, we tend to steam them. Eating food raw absolutely means that you get the absolute nutritional value from that ingredient. That doesn’t necessarily mean cooking will take it all away but it’s certainly a great way to go if it’s palatable for you. Definitely raw is a good way to go but are you going to eat your food raw for the rest of your life? Probably not! But I’m happy to eat lots of raw salads, and there are plenty of things I can enjoy raw. However, some foods actually benefit from the cooking process. Tomatoes for example have been found to release a specific enzyme during the cooking process that is beneficial to men’s health. So in some instances cooking helps.

What foods would we find in your pantry or fridge at home?

First and foremost what you would notice is that about 8-85 per cent of produce has been pulled out of the ground or off a tree. That’s how I pretty much eat. I tend to go to the grocer 2-3 times a week, if not more, and I also have a delivery of fresh produce delivered to my door. I don’t like eating things out of a box or a tin even though these things are quite convenient. In my freezer I have plenty of lean meat like fish or chicken, beef. You’ll find a lot of almond milk as well as skin milk and Greek yoghurt. There will always be a container of chopped vegetable sticks, like celery, low feta cheese and Parmesan, eggs, berries and always a bunch of kale or packets of spinach – for my green smoothies.

If you could recommend two superfoods that we should be eating every day, what would they be?

Definitely they would be a leafy green like spinach or kale and some form of berries, whether blueberries or strawberries etc.

What are some common myths about superfoods?

The most common myth is that they have to be expensive. People complain about having to go to a specialty food store or nutrition store and pay exorbitant amounts for foods. That not true at all, I bought a head of cauliflower last night for $1.50 and whizzed it up with some garlic and a little milk in my Vitamix machine and it made an awesome mash that fed three people with plenty of leftovers.

Can you ever have too much of a good thing? How many superfoods should we be consuming?

We should be eating three main meals a day and within each meal there should be 3-5 superfoods. If you can do that you’re doing extremely well. When it comes to too much, it’s all about portion sizes. If you’re eating double or three times what you should be and working in an office all day then you’re not going to be able to shift that weight if that’s what your goal is. But try not to overthink it, so many people get what I call paralysis from analysis. They wonder if they should eat certain things before they train or after, or during the day or night – just eat it! It’s the same with exercise, when should I exercise, what time of the day – just do it!

When it comes to storing superfoods what’s the best way to do this?

If you can, buy them from a market or local grocer. Second, use hard plastic containers and line them with paper towelling to keep green produce fresh for longer. If you’re stuck on storage, a great tip is to use the plastic bags inside breakfast cereal boxes, take them out, dust it out or wash it out. Place a paper towel in there with some green produce roll it up and stick it in the fridge and it will last longer too and take up less room in the fridge.

What would you last meal be and would it include superfoods?

I’m a major Italian fan, so it would be something Italian and it would definitely include superfoods.

Superfoods Cookbook: The facts, the foods and the recipes – feel great get fit and lose weight, Penguins Books Australia, is available in all good book stores, RRP $29.99

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