We’re all aware that we need a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals to keep our body in peak condition. However, did you know that vitamins are classified as either water-soluble or fat-soluble, depending on which they need in order to be broken down by the body? If you’re eating foods with the intention of getting the most out of their nutritional qualities, you might be missing out on valuable nutrients depending on what you’re combining them with on your plate
Here are four essential nutrients that need to be eaten in conjunction with fats to benefit from their nutritional qualities:
VITAMIN A (Retinoids) -
Retinoids are converted by the body into carotenoids. Both these nutrients are involved in specific immune, inflammatory, cardiovascular, genetic and reproductive related functions, and carotenoids are particularly related to eye health. They can be found in vegetables such as: sweet potato, carrots, spinach, kale, mustard greens, collard greens, butternut squash, bell peppers, cantaloupe, asparagus and sea vegetables.
VITAMIN D (Calciferol, ,25-dihydroxy vitamin D) -
Human skin cells can make vitamin D from sunlight through a reaction catalysed by UVB (ultraviolet B) rays converting a molecule found within the cell. However, various factors, such as overall skin health, number of pigment cells, and strength of the UVB rays involved in the reaction can affect the amount of vitamin D our bodies produce. Vitamin D plays a vital role in bone health, blood sugar control and immunity, so for this reason it is now recommended as an essential nutrient (one you have to consume from food) to ensure you’re taking in appropriate levels. Particularly in England, where the sunshine can be sparse! The best sources of vitamin D are from fish, including salmon, sardines, tuna, and oysters, but it can be absorbed from eggs and shiitake mushrooms as well.
VITAMIN E (Tocromanols) -
Vitamin E is one of the most intensely studied nutrients due to its ability to help prevent free radical damage that leads to accelerated ageing, chronic illness and diseases, such as diabetes, epilepsy, Parkinson's, Alzheimer’s, cancer, heart attack & stroke. As well as in leafy greens, the most vitamin E tends to be in high fat foods, including nuts, seeds, and fatty fish, however, ironically, in spite of our generally high fat diets, British adults have a tendency to be slightly deficient. This is due to the fact that vitamin E gets damaged and degrades quickly when exposed to heat. As recommended in last week’s blog post, this is another reason to keep vegetable oils raw and unprocessed. The best sources of vitamin E include: sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, swiss chard, avocado, turnip greens, asparagus, beet greens & mustard greens.
VITAMIN K -
There are 3 kinds of vitamin K: K1, K2, and K3. In plant foods, you won’t find much pre-formed Vitamin K2, which is made by K1 and K3 through a conversion process either within the human body, or more efficiently via bacteria and other microorganisms (such as Bacillus natto) - which is why eating fermented foods is considered quite a good idea. Vitamin K plays a role in blood clotting and is absolutely vital for bone formation and support. It can be found predominantly in greens such as: kale, spinach, mustard greens, collard greens, beet greens, swiss chard, turnip greens, parsley, broccoli and brussel sprouts, but also in carrots, blueberries, black pepper, tomatoes and grapes.
The most efficient way to have your body stock up on fat-soluble vitamins day-to-day is to include big, greens-based salads with raw avocado or olive oil dressings, or otherwise include a healthy dose of raw, plant-based fats like almonds, sunflower seeds, and avocado, or sustainably sourced fish. Other great ideas are Asian stir-fried greens cooked with coconut oil and served with traditional nut-based toppings.
Here are three great recipes to boost your fat-soluble vitamin intake:
Hot Smoked Salmon Salad with Lemon-Chilli Dressing
- Sweet Potato
- Asparagus Tips
- Fresh, Raw Leafy Greens of Choice
- Spring Onions, Chopped
- Fresh Herbs, Torn (e.g. Parsley, Coriander, Chives)
- Hot-Smoked Wild Alaskan Salmon Steaks
- 1 Lemon, Juiced
- 2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 Tsp Chopped Red Chillies
- 1 Clove Garlic, Crushed
- Sea Salt & Black Pepper to Taste.
Method: Boil potatoes in salt water for 10mins (or until tender), adding asparagus tips for the final 2mins of cooking. Drain and cool, then whisk or blend the dressing ingredients & season to taste. In a large bowl, toss all the salad ingredients together, adding two thirds of the dressing and mix thoroughly. Break the hot smoked salmon fillet over the top with spring onions and drizzle with remaining dressing.
Almond Pad Thai with Kelp Noodles
Spicy Almond Sauce:
- 3 Tbsp Raw Almond Butter
- 4 Tbsp Fresh Lime Juice
- 1/2 Tbsp Tamarind Paste (optional)
- 1 Tablespoon Ginger, Minced
- 1-2 Tsp Chilli Paste
- Pinch Sea Salt
- 3 Tbsp Water
Pad Thai Mix:
- Courgette Noodles
- Butternut Squash Noodles
- Kelp Noodles (optional)
- 1 Cup Broccoli, Chopped
- 3 Tbsp Raw Almonds, Chopped
- Fresh Coriander, Torn
- 1/2 Cup Spring Onions, Chopped
Method: Blend all sauce ingredients together in a food processor until smooth, season with sea salt & black pepper to taste, adding more water for texture if needed. Blanch & drain broccoli, and warm courgette & butternut squash noodles in a non-stick pan until slightly soft. Toss all vegetables with kelp noodles and 3/4 of the dressing. Drizzle with remaining dressing, almonds, spring onions, and torn coriander to serve.
Shiitake Mushroom & Cashew Lettuce Wraps
- 6-8 Medium-sized Lettuce or Cabbage Leaves
- 3 Garlic Cloves, Chopped
- 2 Tsp Ginger, Minced
- 1/4 Cup Lime Juice
- Pinch Sea Salt
- Pinch Cayenne Pepper
- 3 Tbsp Coconut Oil
- 2 Tbsp Low-Sodium Tamari or Coconut Aminos
- 1 Small Brown Onion, Diced
- 500g Shiitake Mushrooms, Finely Chopped
- 1/4 Cup Raw Cashews, Crushed
- 4 Spring Onions, Chopped
- 1 Tbsp Dried Red Chilli
Method: Blend 1 garlic clove, ginger, lime juice, tamari/aminos, sea salt, and cayenne pepper together. Heat coconut oil in non stick pan over a medium-high heat, soften onions until glassy for 6mins and remaining garlic for a further 2mins. Add mushrooms to pan and sauté for 5-8mins, until soft. Reduce heat, drizzle with dressing, toss and sauté for 1-2mins. Allow to cool until warm to touch. Fill lettuce cups with equal amounts of mushroom mix and sprinkle with cashews, onions and dried red chilli.
This blog was written by Phoebe Wynn-Jones. In 2011, hit by a moderately-sized truck travelling at a less-than-moderate speed, Phoebe was told she would never walk again. Using holistic nutrition, yoga and boxing as a means of recovery, she went on to complete her education in Biochemistry and became a qualified nutritionist in 2012.
Phoebe has since consulted on, opened and developed multiple locations within the food and fitness industry in Los Angeles, London, New Jersey and New York. She is now working out of her fight gym MBOX and other venues across East London as a nutrition coach and industry consultant, specialising in nutrition for combat sports competitors and endurance athletes. Find her on the web at impressedhealth.co.uk or on instagram @phoebej_nutrition