British people, on average, eat four pieces of fruit per day. The government recommends eating 5 portions per day, but numerous sources now indicate that we should be having seven if not more portions per day.
When I look at client’s food diaries, their diets are often low in fruit and vegetables and when I recommend that they try and increase their portions of fruit and vegetables they just don’t know where to start.
Why do we need to increase our fruit and vegetables? Fruit and vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which are beneficial to our health. The fibre from the fruit and vegetables will help improve the health of the gut bacteria. Certain vegetables (leeks, onions, garlic, cooked and cooled potatoes) contain prebiotic fibres. This type of fibre feeds the gut bacteria and makes the gut bacteria flourish and bloom. Fibre consumption is also associated with a reduced risk of chronic disease, weight management and can help with constipation.
Six ways to increase your intake of vegetables and fruit
Start your evening meal with a small salad – A small rocket salad with parmesan and pine nuts drizzled in extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar; chopped up vegetables such as cucumber, cherry tomatoes, peppers and carrots with a hummus or guacamole dip, half an avocado drizzled in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Add vegetables to your pasta sauce and serve with whole-grain pasta for a healthy combination. Some good examples to include in your sauces are peppers, celery, carrots, onions, and mushrooms.
Try getting 2 portions of fruit and vegetables in at breakfast – examples include omelette with spinach, tomatoes and mushroom; smoothies with berries, avocado/ spinach; smashed avocado topped with cherry tomatoes on wholegrain toast.
Soups and stews are a wonderful way to increase vegetables – when making your own you can include lots of variety and different vegetables.
Try a new fruit or vegetable once a week – trying something different is a great way to increase the variety, also try different types – if you always buy the same apples, try buying a different variety. We are spoilt for choice these days with things like purple sprouting broccoli, purple carrots or sweet potatoes, different types and coloured tomatoes.
When eating out, you could order vegetable side dishes instead of chips while still enjoying your main meal.