A recent study by Imperial College London, suggests that eating 10 portions of fruit and vegetables a day may give us longer lives yet only one in three people in the UK eats the recommended amount.
Researchers identified specific types of fruit and veg that were linked to reducing the risk of heart disease; apples, pears, citrus fruits, salads, green leafy vegetables (eg lettuce and that even small amounts were a boost to health, but more is even better.
A portion counts as 80g (3oz), the equivalent of a small banana, a pear or three heaped tablespoons of spinach or peas.
Fruit and vegetables have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels, blood pressure and boost the health of blood vessels and the immune system.
Heart Research UK have come up with some ideas of how to pack more of those nutrient rich fruit and vegetables into your daily diet and get the nation closer to reaching the suggested 10 portions of fruit and vegetable per day by including some at every meal.
A nutrient packed start
- Get off to a good start with an 8oz glass of pure fruit juice which counts as one portion.
- For breakfast have a veg-packed omelette containing spinach, avocado, mushrooms or tomatoes and you’re well on your way.
- If you don’t have time to cook up a breakfast, have a wholegrain breakfast cereal with a chopped banana, peach or pear or go for a small handful of dried fruit such as raisins, prunes or dried apricots
A rainbow coloured lunch
- A salad-based lunch is a convenient and easy call towards racking up your fruit and veg intake. Lettuce, cucumber, tomato and peppers create a wonderful coloured lunch time base joined by some protein rich chicken, tuna fish egg, or mixed bean salad.
- If your lunch generally involves a sandwich, make sure it also includes salad ingredients such as onion, beetroot, radish or rocket.
- Freshen up leftovers from the night before by serving with tinned sweetcorn, shredded cabbage or grated carrot
A slow-cook or a fast fry dinner
- Evening meals can take on traditional vegetable loaded stews and casseroles for a mega dose of heart-healthfulness.
- Bake up a medley of roasted Mediterranean vegetable tossed in olive or rapeseed oil and sprinkled with mixed herbs.
- Chop, shred and grate-up a fast and furious stir fry for a crunchy vegetable mix.
- Try introducing one or two meat-free days a week and phase more veg in.
- Peppers, carrot and cucumber finger crudités and a pot of humus or a salsa dip, make for an excellent quick and healthy snack.
- Keep dried fruit such as raisins, sultanas and apricots on hand for when hunger kicks in.