In 2003 the government launched the 5-a-day campaign to encourage us all to eat more fruit and vegetable. Since then, a study (2014) from University College London found "People who ate seven or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day had a 42% lower risk of death at any point in time than those who ate less than one portion" (1). The UCL study also revealed that vegetables have more health benefits than fruit. I like the Australian's take on this, with 'Go For 2&5', encouraging people to eat 2 portions of fruit with 5 portions of vegetables per day. Here are my top tips for trying to increase your fruit and vegetable intake. Experiement, have fun with it and remember even just a small increase in the amount of vegetables you eat can benefit your health.
1. Boost Your Breakfast
Add 2 handfuls of fruit to your cereal, porridge or yoghurt in the morning. Berries like blueberries, and blackberries work well together in the winter season, and bananas and strawberries in the summer.
2. Snack on Fruit
Instead of reaching for the biscuit tin to overcome that mid-morning slump in your blood sugar levels, try a handful of dried fruit. Dried apricot or mango are sweet yet high in fibre.
3. Salad for Lunch
Salads are a great way of packing lots of vegetables in to one meal, whilst keeping the calorie count down. I like to include spinach, kale or rocket as these are packed with nutrition. Try adding tofu, chickpeas, lentils or salmon for a boost of protein; protein is a source of energy and essential for growth and repair.
4. Eat Vegetables in Pairs
Always aim for at least 2 portions of vegetables with your evening meals. Cook double the amount so that you can add the left overs into your salad the next day, seasoned with pepper or paprika with a drizzle of olive oil.
5. Veggie for a Day
Once a week, why not make your main meal a veggie one. Meatless Mondays?
6. Sweet Potato
I try and substitute a carbohydrate like pasta or rice with sweet potatoes at least once a week. They have a higher nutritional value than white potatoes and are high in fibre.
7. Experiment with Vegetables
Each month try cooking with a different vegetable. I've recently been experimenting with aubergines- they are easy to cook and taste great with meat or fish.
8. Fruity Dessert
Frozen berries, slowly simmered on a medium heat over 5 minutes are delicious drizzled over vanilla ice-cream. No reason to feel guilty for having dessert!
1. Oyinlola Oyebode, Vanessa Gordon-Dseagu, Alice Walker, Jennifer S Mindell. Fruit and vegetable consumption and all-cause, cancer and CVD mortality: analysis of Health Survey for England data. J Epidemiol Community Health doi:10.1136/jech-2013-203500