I was pretty confident in my abilities to meet the 5-A-Day guidelines for fruit and vegetable intake. I would exceed this target and feel virtuous about my fantastic 7 or 8 rainbow portions of lovely fruits and veggies that I had eaten that day. I felt I’d pretty much optimised my fruit and veg intake. Turns out I was wrong!
On 23rd Feb news from a large review into fruit and vegetable intake health hit the headlines. The study revealed a reduction in disease and mortality with each 200g/day increase in fruit and vegetables. A daily intake of 800g (about 10 portions) was linked to:
- 33% reduced risk of stroke
- 31% reduced risk of all-cause mortality
- 28% reduced risk of cardio vascular disease
- 24% reduced risk of coronary heart disease
- 14% reduced risk of total cancer.
The UK guideline of 5-A-Day had been set as a realistic goal – yes its a healthy intake, but more – up to 10 portions a day – is better. So how can we boost our fruit and veg intake further?
Here are my 10 top tips to meet your 10-A-Day:
- Pimp your f&v
- Even I sometimes get bored of the same old fruit and veg. So pimp it up! Try new things – how about wasabe peas, or chocolate coated edamame (Itsu do these – find in your local supermarket)
- Yup, it’s an obvious one, but it’s often so much easier to eat large volumes of the green stuff when it’s been blended into a tasty soup
- Roasted veggies
- Again, the cooking process turns another 240g of veggies (3 portions) into a tasty meal accompaniment with far less chewing involved.
- Veg snacks whilst cooking dinner
- I get super-hungry whilst preparing the family meal in the evenings and use this as an opportunity to graze on an extra portion of goodness: carrot sticks, olives, celery sticks, sliced peppers, all gone in seconds when presented at this time of day
- Pickled, frozen and tinned veg
- It’s so hard to always have fresh veg and salad in the fridge. Have a larder full of back ups either to supplement meals or use as the veg component for when the chiller drawer is depleted!: Kimchee and saurkraut have the added bonus of boosting your gut bacteria, and the many benefits this brings.
- Catch up smoothie
- Whether you’ve had a busy day, or you’ve been out and the food choices have meant your way short of your 10 a day, you can always catch up with a smoothie in the evenings. Make your own for the full benefits – shop bought are often sieved so contain little fibre (the good stuff!).
- Make it available
- If fruit and veg is there, it will usually get eaten. Keep the fruit bowl topped up, leave it where the kids can reach and help themselves. Get into the habit of always leaving the house with a few of pieces of fresh fruit, you’ll be thankful for them later. Keep dried fruit and seaweed snacks in your drawer at work.
- Starters and sides
- Both at home and when your out these can boost your intake of the good stuff. Transport yourself back to the 80’s and treat yourself to garlic mushrooms, steamed asparagus with butter and lemon or some melon slices to start. And always order extra vegetable sides or the trusty side salad – veg portions are hardly ever big enough in restaurants to help towards your 10 a day.
- Increase variety
- Try a different fruit or vegetable that you’ve never eaten before every week. Great for increasing the variety of nutrients in your diet as well as increasing overall intake.
- Switch all snacks to fruit and veg
- think carrot and celery sticks, edamame beans, dried fruit and nuts, seaweed thins, fresh fruit, dates stuffed with nut butter, banana on toast
So enjoy your new nutrient packed diet! I look forward to celebrating with you when we all get to 100