It’s the third instalment of my ‘easy changes’ series, and we’re finally at Step 1! And it really is a simple one – just eat more fruit and vegetables!
That may seem just too simple and obvious. After all, the ‘5-a-day’ message has been a key part of the government’s healthy eating campaign for a number of years. But how many people actually hit that target and why is it so important?
Incredibly, the latest research suggests that just 1:5 adults consume 5 portions of fresh fruit and vegetables a day. That’s only 20%! As someone who easily consumes over 10 portions a day, that really blows my mind.
Fresh fruit and vegetables are important for so many reasons.
- Firstly, we’re designed to eat them. We evolved over thousands of years eating a wide variety of berries, roots, leaves, stems and seeds – basically anything edible! Our guts and metabolic processes rely on them to function efficiently and effectively.
- They contain essential nutrients like vitamins and phytonutrients (tiny chemicals found in plant foods) that we cannot make ourselves. Take vitamin C as an example. Most mammals can make their own; primates (which includes humans) and guinea pigs cannot. We rely on getting it from food. It’s abundant in many fresh fruits and vegetables and it’s essential not just to help support the immune system and clear up toxins but also helps manufacture certain proteins and supports the clotting process.
- Phytonutrients act as co-factors for many tiny cellular processes to help our bodies work well. They also help mop up harmful by-products of these processes plus other toxins that can cause harm and lead to health problems. This also helps us age better too, helping us look and feel young for longer.
- The less fresh produce eaten, the higher the likelihood of health problems like cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
- Fresh fruit and vegetables contain a variety of fibre that supports and feeds your microbiome, the friendly bacteria that live in your gut. The microbiome is key to health.
Eating more fruit and veg doesn’t mean you have to sit down and munch your way through a boring plate of lettuce and cucumber. There are so many ways of including them in your diet; once you start, it will become second nature and you’ll start wanting to eat more (promise!). Here’s some simple tasty ways of increasing your portions.
- Have fruit on your breakfast (whole, not juice)
- Eat a piece of fruit as a mid morning or afternoon snack
- Have a hearty bowl of mixed vegetable soup for lunch
- Add extra veggies to your stew and curries
- Eat a colourful salad for lunch – try making a buddha bowl
- Have a green smoothie
- Add an extra portion of vegetables to your main meal
- Try roasting a mix of root vegetables to have with your Sunday lunch
- Add fruit to plain yoghurt instead of buying a fake flavoured version (dairy-free of course!)
- Have hummus and crudités as a snack
The key is eating seasonally and to have variety. And also to enjoy what you’re eating, otherwise that’s no fun at all. So experiment and try something new every week, or even every day.
What are your favourite ways of eating your fruit and veg? I’d love to hear from you, so do drop a comment below.