Eating well: Fruit and veg


who you lookin at, pump? photo via pixabay

We’ve recently been bombarded with information from the media telling us that eating too much red meat causes cancer.  What doesn’t cause cancer these days though?

The World Health Organisation published a report which said that consuming 50g of processed meat per day (two slices of bacon) could increase the chance of colorectal cancer by 18%.  Cancer is one of the biggest killers in the developed world, and barely a month goes by where we’re not warned of something that causes it, but is cutting your meat intake really a good idea?

It is important to have a diet which is varied but with so much information out there, how do you know what is right. Despite the scare stories, you really do need to include a bit of everything in your diet – so don’t go binning that bacon sarnie just yet. To help you understand what you should and shouldn’t be eating to maintain a healthy lifestyle, we’re going be examining the different sections of the NHS eatwell plate – this week, it’s the turn of fruit and veg.

The eatwell plate

For the good of your wellbeing, the National Health Service devised the eatwell plate which should be used as a guideline on how you should balance your consumption.

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As you can see on this chart, 33% is made up of fruit and vegetables. You may already know the recommended daily allowance of these because it has been drilled into our brain from a young age. If you don’t know, you are advised to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables each day. Not five of each, five in total, ideally a mixture of both. It may seem a lot but it is completely doable. You can eat them fresh, frozen, canned, dried – in any form really, as long as you get them down you.

Fruit and vegetables are important because:

  • They contain fibre which is important for healthy digestion
  • They are low in fat and calories
  • They contain a huge variety of essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C and potassium. We can’t store vitamin C in the body so we need to acquire it every day. It helps protect the cells in our body and keep them healthy. Potassium maintains the function of cells, tissues and organs.
  • They lower the risk of serious health problems such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and strokes.
  • They contain naturally occurring sugars called fructose which are much better for your body then sugar found in sweets and chocolate.

To hit your recommended five a day, start the day with a glass of orange juice (not from concentrate). Make a piece of fruit a part of your morning whether it’s banana on toast, an apple or a handful of grapes as a morning snack. Then at lunchtime have salad in your sandwich or meal and ensure some sort of vegetable is involved in your dinner. That’s you up at four portions already so if you then go for a sweet fruit like straw berries or raspberries as a nighttime snack you’re sorted!

In the next article we will be looking at starchy foods which make up the next 33% of the chart.

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