There is no doubt that a diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables offers a whole host of health benefits including protection from Heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, some types of cancer, eye disease and gastrointestinal troubles. Some fruits and vegetables are good natural sources of vitamin A, while others are rich in Vitamin C, folate and potassium. Almost all the fruits and vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories. They have no cholesterol and many are great sources of fiber.
To prevent chronic diseases, fruits and especially vegetables are very important. Vegetables especially have the antioxidants, minerals, and phytochemicals in the correct combination that help keep the blood sugar in balance, create better energy in the body, and along with fruits build up the immune system.
Each color found in fruits and vegetables focus on building the immune system in its own way. It is important to get a variety of colors, so that you will get a full range of phytochemicals (beneficial plant chemicals) in your daily diet. Research is finding that eating whole fruits and vegetables gives you many more nutrients than you could possible add to a vitamin and mineral supplement. There are over 12,000 phytochemicals, and I have yet to see a supplement, unless it has whole fruits and vegetables in it, have all of the 180 different vitamins or minerals that are required by our body to function daily.The different colors in fruits and vegetables help our immune system react to different stresses in our daily life.
To gain the maximum benefit from fruit, eat it fresh and if the skins are edible, eat them too.
Dried fruits and fruit juices count towards your five a day. Use them in moderation, though, because fruit loses most of its natural fibre in the juicing process and dried fruits lose most of their vitamin C.
Try to eat two or three portions of fruit every day. One portion equates to 80g, which would be:
- one medium apple, orange, banana
- three tablespoons or so of chopped, cooked or canned fruit
- 150ml juice or smoothie (100 per cent fruit)
- one tablespoon of dried fruit (choose brands that have not been preserved with sulphur dioxide).
To boost your fruit intake, try some of the suggestions below.
- Combine more expensive, unusual fruits like mangos and papaya with common ones such as bananas in a liquidised fruit smoothie.
- Add chopped fresh fruit to your breakfast cereal.
- Combine fruit with low fat yoghurt and chopped nuts for a mid-morning snack.
- Round off a meal with a piece of fresh fruit or a portion of grapes.
- Avoid fruit juices that are not 100 per cent pure, including nectars, concentrates and cocktails or any juice that has added sugars.
- For a healthy dessert, bake apples or pears with cinnamon and top with sultanas and chopped nuts. Serve with live plain yoghurt.
Balance your vegetable intake between the orange/red and green varieties.
The more colourful your choice, the healthier it usually is.
As an easy rule, the darker and brighter the colour of the vegetable the more vitamins, minerals and fibre they usually contain. For example, spinach contains more nutrients than lettuce.
Make sure you balance the more starchy vegetables like corn, butternut squash, pumpkin, peas, root vegetables and sweet potatoes with less starchy vegetables like courgettes, green beans, spinach, broccoli and cauliflower.
You should aim for three portions of vegetables each day. One portion equates to 80g, which would be a cereal bowl of lettuce, but three tablespoons or so of carrots.
To boost your vegetable intake, try some of the suggestions below.
Good advice For Healthy Life:
Always wash your vegetables before use and remove the outer leaves of lettuces and cabbage.
- Eat your vegetables raw as part of a sandwich filling or serve them with dips. You can make your own dip using natural yoghurt and finely chopped herbs.
- Juice raw vegetables such as carrot, tomato and cucumber for a quick and refreshing drink. Ginger and lemon can be added for taste. One to try is carrot, celery and apple.
- Overcook your vegetables, and they lose nutrients. For this reason, microwave or lightly steam vegetables rather than boiling.
- Salads are quick to make. Make them more appetising by adding items such as chopped nuts and cannellini beans, and a healthy dressing such as vinaigrette or a dash of olive oil.
- Homemade vegetable soup is an ideal way for the family to increase their intake of vegetables. Add lentils, beans or wholegrains like pearl barley to make it a complete meal. The soup can also be frozen in portions and used later on.
- Always include vegetables with your main meals. So if you eat pasta, have it with a simple side salad.
- Add fresh herbs to pep up vegetables. Use chopped mint to add to green beans, peas and mangetout, coriander in stir-fries, curries and casseroles, and rosemary or thyme with root vegetables.