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Wellbeing tips

Organic diet



There are five colours of well-being. The first is red: red fruit and vegetables are rich in lycopene – which has great health benefits – and anthocyanins, which are effective in combating capillary fragility, atherosclerosis and enhancing eyesight. Red fruits and vegetables include watermelon, strawberries, cherries, blood oranges, tomatoes, radishes and beetroot.


Royal blue

Another colour of well-being is royal blue / purple. Fruits of this colour are some of the most beneficial, because along with the positive effects of anthocyanins – also found in red fruits – they include carotenoids, vitamin C, fibre and resveratrol. All these elements are hugely advantageous for your body’s health, treating urinary infections, promoting bowel regularity and improving your skin and eyesight. The blue fruit basket is made up of currants, blueberries, blackberries, plums, red grapes, figs and aubergines.


Yellow and orange

The third colour of well-being is yellow / orange. A powerful antioxidant, beta-carotene is a precursor of vitamin A, essential for the reproduction and maintenance of tissues, the immune system and eyesight. In this colour nature offers apricots, melons, loquats, peaches, sharon fruit, grapefruit, oranges, tangerines, lemons, carrots, peppers and pumpkins.



Green is another colour of well-being. A powerful antioxidant, thanks to the chlorophyll content, and a source of carotenoids which helps eyesight and counteracts skin ageing. Certain vegetables are rich in folic acid, which prevents cardiovascular disease and is very important during pregnancy. In this colour we can find kiwis, grapes, spinach, courgettes, asparagus, broccoli, artichokes, cabbage, cucumber, chicory, turnips, beets, endives, lettuce, basil, parsley and rocket.



The last colour of well-being is white. Some white vegetables contain allyl sulfides, which reduce the formation of clots, making the blood more fluid. Others are rich in isothiocyanates, which prevent signs of ageing. They also contain a good amount of antioxidants: flavonoids, quercetin, fibre, potassium and vitamin C. White fruit and vegetables include apples, pears, fennel, cauliflower, celery, leeks, mushrooms, onion and garlic.


No skipping meals

Is skipping a meal an effective and quick way to lose weight? No! Fasting causes a number of negative effects: increased risk of nutritional disorders, a slower metabolism, and a loss of lean mass. So it is good practice to divide the food needed for our body to function into at least three meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner, and also allow for a snack depending on your commitments and needs.



During the day we need a lot of energy and getting to the next meal without feeling the pangs of hunger can be a real challenge. But there is no need to resist. In fact, a simple snack keeps our blood sugar levels stable, but it is important to not have too many fats and sugars. Yoghurt, nuts and dried fruit or a home-made sweet treat are ideal.



Monotonous eating habits do not meet our body’s actual needs.  There is no single food that contains all the necessary energy for our body, so it is important to vary our food as much possible. A healthy and balanced diet is the first step in getting all the energy we need and helps prevent common health problems.


To each his own

How many of us and how often have we taken diet advice from someone we trust? It is worth bearing in mind that what may work for others might not work for you. Diet is unique and personal and you should be wary of drastic methods that promise easy results, because a balanced diet includes all types of food. It is therefore advisable to obtain a personalised programme from professionals.


The Mediterranean diet

The food pyramid is the go-to dietary model for inhabitants of the Mediterranean area. It shows how often each category of food should be eaten every day. Each of these should be varied to have a complete energy intake. No food is forbidden, as long as it is eaten in amounts that are proportionate to our calorific needs.


Step by step

At the base of the pyramid are fruits and vegetables with 5-6 recommended daily servings. As we move upwards, we find bread, pasta, rice and grains, with 4-5 servings. Next come condiments, with a maximum of 3 tablespoons. Then we find milk, yoghurt and cheese, with 2-3 portions. At the next step, 1-2 portions of meat, fish, eggs and legumes are permitted. At the top are sweets, with a single daily portion.


Daily energy

Based on the Mediterranean model, our daily calorific intake should, on average, consist of 55% carbohydrates (such as bread, pasta, rice and grains) including 15% simple sugars, 15% protein (such as meat, fish, eggs and legumes), and 30% fats (1/3 saturated, 1/3 polyunsaturated, 1/3 monounsaturated). Drinking 2 litres of water (mineral and trace mineral) per day is fundamental.


Whole grains

Grains are the seeds of plants that fall under the grasses category, such as wheat, rye, rice, oats and barley. Although refined flour is most commonly used, today we are rediscovering the nutritional power of the whole grain. In fact, the consumption of whole grains reduces the onset of cardiac disorders and diabetes and helps maintain a healthy weight.


Wholemeal diet

A modest consumption of grains (2-3 servings per day) is enough to provide your body with benefits. Whole grains are rich in fibre, vitamins (B group and vitamin E) and minerals (iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium and selenium). Many of the beneficial substances are contained in the germ and bran, such as starch, oligosaccharides, inulin, lignans, phytosterols, phytic acid, tannins, lipids and antioxidants, all useful components for nourishing the body.


The wholemeal label

To check if a product is wholemeal, you should read the label carefully. The words “wholemeal” should appear alongside the ingredient (such as “wholemeal flour” or “100% wholemeal wheat”) and the whole grains should appear at the top of the list of ingredients. Furthermore, just because a product is dark, that does not mean it is wholemeal: often, as in the case of breakfast cereals, they are light in colour.


The wholemeal alternative

Whole grains should be gradually introduced to our diet, so as to allow the organism to adapt to the higher fibre content. For example, at breakfast we can replace standard cereals with whole grain cereal. For a snack, use rye bread, wholemeal rice crackers, or oat cakes; for lunch, opt for whole grain rice, pasta, or barley.


The properties of fish

Fish has a high protein content and a variable amount of fat (mostly polyunsaturated): omega 3, which is helpful for the prevention of cardiovascular disease; and omega 6. Fish is an excellent source of iodine, calcium, phosphorus, copper, magnesium, iron, selenium, sodium and vitamins 81, 82, 812 and PP. Shellfish, on the other hand, contain less protein, fat and sugar, but are rich in calcium, magnesium, iron, iodine and vitamins A, 8 and C. Due to their cholesterol content, we recommend a moderate consumption.


Fish on the table

We should opt for oily fish as it has a high nutritional value, is abundant in our seas and is generally cheap: this includes anchovies, sardines, saraghìne, mackerel, tuna, swordfish and Atlantic bonito. An equally valid option is white fish from the Adriatic: mullet, gurnard, scaldfish, horse mackerel and common mola. Alternatively, you can replace fresh fish with frozen, which preserves the nutritional qualities. In any case, we recommend eating fish at least 2-3 times a week.



These were one of first plants to be cultivated and consumed by humans. Traces of legumes have actually been found in the most ancient civilisations, including Mexico, Turkey, Egypt and Italy. In Italy, the most common legumes are beans, cowpeas, peas, lentils, chickpeas, broad beans, lupins, chickling peas and peanuts. Both fresh and dried legumes have a fundamental role in our diet due to their outstanding nutritional value.


The properties of legumes

Cooking the legumes for longer makes them easier to digest. Dried legumes have a high calorific value and contain a substantial amount of iron (about 8 mg / 100 g in lentils and beans). They are also rich in potassium, phosphorus and magnesium, and contain B vitamins, making them a good source of energy. All legumes are high in fibre. Insoluble legumes regulate the intestine, while the soluble ones control the levels of glucose and cholesterol in the blood.


Legume proteins

They are a valuable source of protein: dried legumes can contain more protein than meat, and double the amount than in grains. Legume proteins can be classified into three groups: globulins (or storage proteins, making up about 70% of the total); albumins (or metabolic, making up about 20%); and glutelins (about 10%). They have very little of the amino acids which contain sulphur, but offer an abundance of the essential ones. This is why it is important to integrate and combine legumes with grains, so that the combined biological value of your diet is the same as if you were eating animal products. 



Peas can be yellow, green, smooth or wrinkled. They can be consumed fresh or dried. Fresh peas come frozen or tinned, so you can eat them throughout the year. The nutritional value varies depending on the amount of water: 79% in fresh peas and 13% in dried peas. Fresh peas offer a good amount of vitamin C, while dried ones contain carbohydrates, potassium, phosphorus, thiamine and niacin.



Native to Asia, they quickly spread throughout the world. The main producers of soybeans are the United States and Brazil, but they have also been introduced to France, Russia, Romania and Italy. Most food products with a high nutritional value are made from soybeans. They can be fermented (mixed with rice), taken in drink form (soy milk), consumed as cheese (tofu), or structured (stew or steak). They are rich in protein, essential amino acids and minerals (phosphorus, calcium and iron).



There are many varieties of chickpeas. They are native to the east Mediterranean and north Africa, but are now very popular in the Middle East. They contain an abundance of lipids, which is what gives them their signature taste, and fibre, with a significant insoluble component that makes the chickpeas a very useful food for diabetics. They contain a good dose of B vitamins and are rich in minerals, including magnesium, calcium, phosphorus and potassium.



Beans originated in Central America and were later adopted in Europe. There are many varieties, but all are characterised by a tough and colourful skin, which is sometimes multi-coloured or mottled. They come in many shapes and sizes: the Mexican bean is small, black and round, while the Spanish one is white, large and flat. The protein content varies depending on the variety, but is very high in dried beans. They are an excellent source of iron, calcium and potassium.


Broad beans

This legume is native to North Africa and is highly nutritional. Its seeds are used both fresh and dried. In the latter case, the protein ratio is rather high, but in both cases it is a good source of both carbohydrates and niacin. The polyphenol content gives it a slightly acidic taste which often limits its use.



Tomatoes can be consumed raw, cooked, or in preserves, and have a variety of uses including pasta sauce and pizza topping. They are mostly made up of water (93%) and contain a smaller percentage of carbohydrates (2.9%), fibre (1.8%), protein (1%) and fat (0.2%). They are rich in citric acid (90%), known to promote the absorption of iron in the blood. Its benefits include powerful antioxidant and skin protecting properties.



Harvested from May to July if consumed fresh, cherries are the main ingredient of syrups, liqueurs, juices, sauces and jams. They are composed of 80% water and contain vitamins A and C, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, iron, sodium and magnesium. They contain a significant amount of fructose (sugar with no negative effects for diabetics) and flavonoids, which are highly valuable in the fight against free radicals. Cherries also boast diuretic and purifying properties.



Summer isn’t complete without a watermelon. Consisting of more than 90% water, they have a reserve of vitamins A, BI, 82, and PP. Thanks to their decent mineral content (sodium, potassium, iron, phosphorus and calcium), they help combat feelings of fatigue, typical of the summer months. They have several properties: they protect the liver and respiratory tract, are refreshing, diuretic and cleansing for the body.



Although we consume them all year round, aubergines are a summer fruit. They are very good baked, grilled, marinated, in sauces, cooked on their own or in combination with other vegetables or cheeses. They contain more than 90% water, as well as large amounts of potassium, phosphorus and magnesium. They also contain slightly smaller amounts of zinc, iron, copper, calcium and selenium, as well as vitamins A, B, C, E, K and J. Other properties include their purifying, mineralising and tonic qualities. They are gluten-free.



Found all year round, we can enjoy them raw in salads, boiled and steamed for a light side dish or as a main ingredient in stews, soups or pasta. They have a modest vitamin A and C content and a higher amount of potassium and manganese. They are among the most digestible vegetables, thanks to their good dose of fibre that regulates intestinal balance and promotes the absorption of nutrients.

Contents extracted from the teaching material of the 2013 edition of the course “Learning to love yourself” by AUSL Cesena.

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