Fruit and vegetables are an integral part of a healthy balanced diet. Accumulating scientific evidence have shown that regular consumption of fruit and vegetables can lower the risk of chronic diseases and disorders, such as heart disease, cancer, stroke and Type 2 diabetes.
As someone working within the field of nutrition and dietetics, there is not a day when I am not reinforcing the importance of eating fruits and vegetables daily to my clients and members of the general public. It is recommended that in the UK we should aim to eat 5 portions of fruits and vegetables a day, but how many of us actually does so? With emerging studies showing that we ought to eat 7 and even 10 portions of fruits and vegetables a day – most of us will struggle if either of these recommendations are put in place!
Below I will tell you a few quick tips on how you can include more fruit and veggies in your diet and good practices to adopt in order to promote beneficial health effects to your body!
5 Tips to increase fruit and vegetables:
1) Add fresh or dried fruit to your breakfast cereals or porridge.
2) Add extra vegetables like grated carrots, beansprouts, and broccoli into your stir-fries, soups, casserole or main dishes.
3) Drink your fruits & vegetables – by making a juice or a smoothie! There are so many books and online articles with delicious recipe ideas!!
4) Make your salads interesting and colourful – A bowl of lettuce is not really appealing or appetizing! Try making it interesting and colourful by adding a range of vegetables such as carrots, tomatoes, bell peppers, and red cabbages.
5) Create your own fruit dishes – Being adventurous with your fruit intake actually helps! I sometimes make myself a fruit kebab or a fruit salad and have it with a nice Greek yoghurt or make myself a cooling treat on a nice summer’s day by making myself a fruit popsicle!
5 Good practices you should do:
1) When prepping your vegetables – do not leave it in water for a long time as some of the water-soluble vitamins like vitamin C and folic acid are leached out and lost!
2) Steam or microwave, rather than boiling your veggies! as it will help preserve the vitamin content in your vegetables.
3) Drizzle some lemon or vinegar to your salad to help reduce vitamin C loss as acidic conditions enhances the stability of the vitamin.
4) Try and avoid cutting your vegetables into very small pieces – even though it adds 100 points to your food presentation skills, but some vitamins can be easily leached out into water, thus reducing the nutritional value of your vegetables.
5) Instead of adding sugars to your cereals, puddings or cake mixes, add fruits instead for naturally-occurring sugars and extra sweetness.