Here at WeAreFeel we love the Great British Bake Off - like the rest of the country! So we teamed up with our nutritionists to create a list of the most vitamin and mineral-packed baked goods, not only to celebrate the wonderful art of baking, but to also highlight that some indulgent treats still offer health benefits, in moderation of course!
Our nutritionists analysed some popular recipes, such as carrot cake and hummingbird cake, and worked out based on the amount of a fruit or vegetable they contain how much of a vitamin/mineral each serving of that recipe provides. They then organised their findings into a nice list to reflect the most nutritious baked good recipes, and you may be surprised to know that the historical saying ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’ isn’t factually true.
It’s worth noting that water soluble vitamins such as vitamin C and the B vitamins are degraded when heat is applied to them (basically when food is cooked the vitamin value decreases and loses a bit of its potency), so you will get a smaller amount of vitamin C from cooked rhubarb in a crumble, than raw rhubarb.
The top 10 most vitamin-packed baked goods per slice based on an adult’s RDA are:
1. Sweet potato pie - 92% RDA of vitamin A (Recipe here)
2. Rhubarb crumble - 13% RDA of vitamin C, 10% of calcium (Recipe here)
3. Strawberry cheesecake - 27.9% RDA of vitamin C (Recipe here)
4. Orange polenta cake - 18.6% RDA of vitamin C (Recipe here)
5. Carrot cake - 11% of RDA vitamin A (Recipe here)
6. Hummingbird cake - 8.7% of vitamin C (Recipe here)
7. Tomato and olive bread - 7.4% of vitamin C (Recipe here)
8. Banana bread - 5% of vitamin B6, 3.2% of potassium (Recipe here)
9. Beetroot brownies - 2.2% of vitamin C (Recipe here)
10. Apple fruit cake - 1% vitamin C, 2.5% of Iron, 2.5% of vitamin B6 (Recipe here)
What are the benefits of vitamin C?
Vitamin C, chemically known as ascorbic acid, is one of the most important essential vitamins and minerals. This nutrient has potent antioxidant activity, with conditions like scurvy linked to vitamin C deficiency.
Vitamin C is necessary for tissue production and maintenance. This potent antioxidant plays a key role in generating collagen, which is the most prevalent protein in your body. Without proper levels of collagen, your skin will start to sag, and your chances of developing joint issues increases.
This nutrient is also necessary for the absorption of iron, and it is involved in regulating multiple immune processes. As an antioxidant, vitamin C reduces inflammation, which may reduce your risk of disease in general. In addition, vitamin C plays a role in healing both external and internal wounds.
What are the benefits of vitamin A?
Vitamin A, also known as retinol, is an essential nutrient, that has various skin benefits while also boosting your immune system and reducing oxidative stress throughout your body. Vitamin A is plentiful in fish and liver oils. This nutrient is also present in milk and eggs, and plant-based sources of vitamin A include sweet potato, spinach, carrots, and cantaloupe.
In addition to its antioxidant functions, vitamin A is also essential to immune function, reproduction, and cellular communication. Importantly, vitamin A is a critical component of rhodopsin, which is a protein that your body uses to absorb the light that strikes your retinas. Your body also needs vitamin A to form and maintain a variety of organ structures.
What are the benefits of vitamin B6?
Pyridoxine, or vitamin B6, is an important part of the B vitamin complex. Like other B vitamins, pyridoxine helps your body process energy, and this nutrient is also involved in various cardiovascular, neurological, and reproductive functions.
Vitamin B6 is a coenzyme that is involved in over 100 enzymatic processes in your body. This nutrient mainly helps your proteins metabolise correctly; without enough vitamin B6, your vital proteins might act sluggishly or burn out too quickly. Pyridoxine improves your overall health and well-being by helping your metabolic processes proceed smoothly.
What are the benefits of Iron?
Iron is an essential mineral that is vital to blood cell production, and supplementation with this nutrient is critical for people who pursue animal-free diets. Iron is naturally present in most meats, and it is also available in certain vegetables and legumes. In addition, most types of store-bought breakfast cereals and breads are fortified with iron.
The main function of iron in the body is the production of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen within your bloodstream. Without proper hemoglobin production, your tissues become starved of oxygen, which results in lethargy and even cell death.
What are the benefits of calcium?
Calcium is an essential mineral that’s necessary for bone and cardiovascular health. It's the most abundant nutrient in the body, and is stored and used when needed. Calcium is most abundant in dairy products like milk, cheese, and yoghurt, however is available in certain vegetables but to a lesser degree.
Calcium is responsible for a variety of signalling and modulation processes in your body. For instance, calcium is necessary for both vasoconstriction and vasodilation, which are the narrowing and widening of your blood vessels. This nutrient also plays a critical role in hormonal secretion and muscle functioning, but the vast majority of the calcium in your body is used to make sure your bones maintain their proper density. Almost your entire skeletal structure is made of calcium, so any drop in calcium intake will harm your bone integrity.
What are the benefits of potassium?
Potassium is one of the seven essential macrominerals and is technically an electrolyte that decreases the risk of stroke, lowers blood pressure, protects against loss of muscle mass, preserves bone mineral density and reduces the formation of kidney stones. The primary functions of potassium in the body include regulating fluid balance and controlling the electrical activity of the heart and other muscles.