Easy meals with great health benefits

Niamh Hennessy
Lead Dietitian, Cromwell Hospital
27 December 2023
Next review due December 2026

It’s easy to think that eating well takes lots of time and energy. But many simple meals can contain great health benefits. Here I’ll explore some of the beneficial ingredients you probably already have in your cupboards. I’ll also give you two, easy to make recipes, that are great for your health.

person serving salad

What are the health benefits of eating well?

There are many potential health benefits to eating well. For example, a good amount of fibre in your diet– ideally 30g per day, can help to reduce your risk of constipation, and colon cancer.

And if you eat a wide range of fruit and vegetables this can provide you with valuable antioxidants, such as Vitamin C. Certain antioxidants have been linked to a reduced risk of cognitive decline. They are also beneficial for immune health and healthy aging.

How can I eat well as I get older?

It’s important to get enough protein as you age because our protein needs increase as we get older. Protein is important for our muscles, but also for immune health. You can find protein in meat, fish, eggs, dairy, and nuts.

Including plenty of essential fatty acids, such as omega 3, is also important as we age. This is because omega 3 has an anti-inflammatory effect within the body and may help to reduce our risk of heart disease.

Following a Mediterranean style diet is a heart healthy choice as we get older. This type of diet is high in olive oil, and oily fish, and low in saturated fats from animal products.

Which foods have health benefits?

Below are some common ingredients that we might tend to overlook. But these every day staples have a number of health benefits, and are listed as ingredients in the recipes below.


Tuna is a good source of protein and Vitamin D – both of which can help to support your immune system as you get older. Tuna is also a good source of iron, vitamin B6 and potassium. These nutrients can help you to maintain healthy red blood cells, energy levels and blood pressure.

Tinned tuna can be lower in heart healthy omega 3 than other types of oily fish. So, try to add in one portion of salmon or mackerel per week too.

Wholegrain pasta

Wholegrain pasta (brown pasta) is a complex carbohydrate which means it offers you slow release energy. This can help to reduce blood sugar highs and lows and may keep you fuller for longer. Wholegrain pasta also contains fibre, as well as higher levels of B Vitamins than refined, white flour pasta.

Butternut squash

This versatile vegetable is a good source of beta carotene – which is a type of Vitamin A. Vitamin A is good for healthy vision, skin, and your immune function. Butternut squash is also a source of fibre, and Vitamin C. You can use butternut squash in soups, tray bakes, and as a replacement for potato in several recipes.

Chopped tomatoes

The humble tin of tomatoes can offer you lots of nutritional benefits. Chopped tomatoes are rich in lycopene. This is a special plant compound that may protect against heart disease and certain types of cancer.

Lycopene becomes even more effective when the chopped tomatoes are cooked. This makes it a great ingredient to add to sauces and stews. 

Here are two easy to make recipes using everyday ingredients – with great health benefits. 

Tuna, sweetcorn, spinach, tomato, wholemeal (brown) pasta bake

Follow the recipe below, or you can also watch how to make it in this video by registered dietitian, Tai Ibitoye.

tomato sweetcorn pasta bake


(serves 3 to 4)

  • 350g whole-wheat penne pasta
  • 400g tinned chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tins of canned tuna in sunflower oil
  • 2 handfuls of spinach
  • 330g can sweetcorn
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Handful of spring onions
  • Frozen mixed bell peppers
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 3 tbsp sun-dried tomatoes
  • 100g mozzarella


  • preheat the oven to 200ºC (180º C for a fan oven).
  • Cook the pasta in a large pan (following the pack instructions) until cooked but still firm - 'al dente', then drain the pasta.
  • Mix in the spinach, tuna, sweetcorn, chopped tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, onions, and season with spices.
  • Transfer the pasta to a large baking dish.
  • Top with the mozzarella and bake for at least 20 minutes.

Butternut squash & plantain curry

Follow the recipe below, or you can also watch how to make it in this video by registered dietitian, Tai Ibitoye.

serving of butternut squash and plantain curry


(serves 3 to 4)

  • 1 ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 x 500g butternut squash chunks or diced
  • 2 plantains, chopped
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 large tomato
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 reduced fat coconut milk
  • a handful of spinach


  • Heat the oil in a pan and gently fry the squash and onion for about 4 minutes, stirring regularly until beginning to soften and brown.
  • Add the spices and cook for roughly 3 minutes, stirring regularly.
  • Add bell pepper, tomato and tomato puree and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add the reduced fat coconut milk and a small cup of water and bring to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes and stir occasionally until the curry becomes thick. Stir in the spinach.
  • At the same time, in another pan, heat the oil over a low to medium heat and gently fry the plantain for about 2 minutes on each side or until golden-brown. Drain on kitchen paper to remove any excess oil.
  • Add the plantain into the curry.
  • Can be served on its own or with brown or basmati rice, or a wholemeal crusty bread.
  • The leftover curry can be stored in the freezer.

Do you know how healthy you truly are? Bupa health assessments give you a clear overview of your health and a view of any future health risks. You'll receive a personal lifestyle action plan with health goals to reach for a happier, healthier you.

Niamh Hennessy
Niamh Hennessy
Lead Dietitian, Cromwell Hospital



Julia Ebbens, Health Content Editor at Bupa UK

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