Diet Health Hacks

February 17th, 2020 | Posted in Info

This week’s tips are for those of you eating a healthy diet and living a healthy lifestyle but who may want to super charge their meals and way of life. Here you’ll find lots of easy to implement dietary and lifestyle tweaks you can make to take your health and well being to the next level.

Diet Health Hacks

1. Dress it up – Phytonutrients are better absorbed from vegetables if they are combined with oil (1). So, whether eating cooked vegetables or salads sprinkle on an oil based dressing to reap maximum benefits from your food.

2. Light it up – Exposing mushrooms to UV radiation from sunlight or UV lamps increases their vitamin D content (2). Put your mushrooms on the windowsill for a day or two before you eat them for an easy dose of vitamin D.

3. Blend it – Carotenoids from red, orange and yellow vegetables are made more bioavailable by processes such as cooking and blending (3). Think butternut squash soup or carrot puree.

4. Steam it – Cooking vegetables can reduce their phytonutrient content but, conversely, can also increase the bioavailability of these nutrients meaning you may absorb more than you would from raw vegetables where the nutrients are bound up in the fibre. (3). Steaming vegetables means that nutrients are not leached out into the water. (3).

5. Roast it – Cooking vegetables in olive oil increases the bioavailability of the nutrients in vegetables (4). It’s important not to heat oil to high temperatures so roasting or quick stir frying are recommended. Alternatively, cook with coconut oil which is more stable at high temperatures.

6. Sprout it – Sprouting seeds such as sunflower, radish, broccoli and mung beans increases their antioxidant content (5,6,7).

7. Ferment it – The fermentation process enhances the nutritional and functional properties of food by improving digestibility and contributing beneficial microorganisms (8).

8. Chop it – garlic’s health promoting properties come partly from its allicin content. To maximise the formation of allicin chop the garlic and leave it for 10 minutes before adding to the pot.

9. Combine it – many foods have a synergistic effect meaning the health benefits increase when foods are combined. For example, the piperine in black pepper increases the absorption of curcumin from turmeric. Cooking the spices in oil also increases their absorption. Adding mustard to cooked broccoli increases the bio-availability of the anti-cancer compound, sulforaphane, by up to 4 times (9).

10. Spice it up – Herbs and spices are fantastically rich in nutrients as well as having anti-microbial and digestion stimulating compounds.

11. Get Bitter – Eating bitter foods stimulates the digestive juices. Bitter vegetables include chicory, mizuna, dandelion leaves, endive and rocket. Eat a small green salad of bitter leaves before main meals to give your digestion a boost.

See the blog post How to Eat Health Hacks for tips on how and when to eat. And see N.E.A.T Exercise for Health for the benefits of non exercise activity and how to get more of this into your life.



1. Am J Clin Nutr. 2017 Oct;106(4):1041-1051.Modeling the dose effects of soybean oil in salad dressing on carotenoid and fat-soluble vitamin bioavailability in salad vegetables. White et al.
2. Nutrients. 2018 Oct 13;10(10). pii: E1498. A Review of Mushrooms as a Potential Source of Dietary Vitamin D. Cardwell G et al.
3. J Sci Food Agric. 2014 Apr;94(6):1057-70. The effect of cooking on the phytochemical content of vegetables. Palermo M et al.
4. Molecules. 2019 Apr 19;24(8). pii: E1555. Using Extra Virgin Olive Oil to Cook Vegetables Enhances Polyphenol and Carotenoid Extractability: A Study Applying the sofrito Technique. Rinaldi de Alvarenga JF et al.
5. J Sci Food Agric. 2013 Nov 6. Metabolomic analysis of the polyphenols in germinating mung beans (Vigna radiata) seeds and sprouts. Tang, D, Dong Y, Guo N, Li L, Ren H.
6. Food Chem. 2014 Jan 15;143:300-6. Phenolic profile and antioxidant activity in selected seeds and sprouts. Pajak P, Socha R, Galkowska D, et al.
7. J Agric Food Chem. 2012 Nov 7;60(44):11050-5. Effect of germination on phytochemical profiles and antioxidant activity of mung bean sprouts (Vigna radiata) Guo X, Li T, Tang K, Liu RH.
8. Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2016 Dec 17;44:94-102. Health benefits of fermented foods: microbiota and beyond. Marco ML, Heeney D, Binda S, Cifelli CJ et al.
9. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2018 Sep;62(18):e1700980. Supplementation of the Diet by Exogenous Myrosinase via Mustard Seeds to Increase the Bioavailability of Sulforaphane in Healthy Human Subjects after the Consumption of Cooked Broccoli. Okunade O et al.