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Bitesize nutrition - Fruit and vegetable intake

Everyone knows that it’s important to eat fruit and vegetables, as it is something we hear from a young age, but it is important to consider why. A recent national study found that only 30% of adults in the UK are getting the recommended 5 portions of fruit and veg a day. Fresh fruit and veg contain vital vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and dietary fibre that feed every cell in our bodies and help us keep healthy.

The government recommends 5 portions per day for optimum health and wellbeing. But we should be aiming to get to 7 to 10 portions, to ensure we are feeding our bodies with the nutrients they need to function at their best.

 

Fruit, although a fantastic source of vitamins and minerals, can also be high in fructose or fruit sugar. Sugar of any kind impacts our blood sugar balance throughout the day. Although the sugar in fruit is natural and the absorption of it into our bloodstream is slowed down by the presence of fibre, we still need to be conscious not to overdo our fruit intake. To keep it simple aim for 3 portions of fruit a day and try to get as much variety as possible to ensure you are getting the wide variety of nutrients on offer from all the wonderful fruit available to us.

Vegetables naturally contain less natural sugar than most fruits and so can be consumed freely and in abundance. Again, variety here is key, mix it a up and keep it exciting.
When eating natural whole fruits and vegetables, which are full of important nutrients, don’t get hung up on portion sizes. But to give you a general idea here are some examples:

  

Tips on how to increase your fruit and vegetable intake

 

  • Choose seasonal fruit and veg when shopping, as they tend to be better value.
  • Buy own brand frozen fruit and use for smoothies or take out the night before to defrost for breakfast – avoid waste!
  • Aim to have at least one or two portions with each meal – be creative and if you need ideas invest in a simple cook book.
  • Make soups and omelettes – you can get lots of portions in and both are very easy.
  • Be prepared – bananas, apples, pears, and fresh carrots and celery sticks (which can be dipped in hummus) are all very easy to pop on your bag for snacks during the day.
  • Fill half of your dinner plate with vegetables, and aim to get a wide variety.

Further information

Imperial College London has published an interesting article on the benefits of eating more fruit and vegetables.
British Nutrition Foundation

 

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