One dietary change that can have an enormous impact on your health? According to the recent study done at Imperial College London increasing your fruit and vegetable intake to 10 portions of 80 grams (800g) per day is associated with:
- 24 % reduction in risk of heart diseasE
- 33 % reduction in risk of stroke
- 28 % reduction in cardiovascular disease
- 13 % reduction in premature death
Currently we see the average intake of fruit and vegetables in the UK sitting at 4 for adults and 3 for children which is drastically under the new recommendations of 10 per day and even under the old recommendations of 5 per day. Also I would say that there needs to also be a shift in focus on VEGETABLES rather than lumping fruit and vegetables together.
Fruits can be fantastic source of antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins and minerals but they also can be high in sugar so limiting your fruit consumption to a moderate amount would be a better idea in order to reduce our sugar consumption. This means not 10 portions of fruit per day rather 2-3 and the remaining of the 10 in VEGETABLES.
Your biggest bang for buck when it comes to the food you put in your body is VEGETABLES and specifically non-starchy vegetables those ones full of fibre, polyphenols, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals some of the highest sources in our modern diet.
What does this mean for the average person?
- Start your plate with vegetables – non-starchy vegetables like dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, swiss chard, cabbage), cruciferous veggies (cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts), peppers, onions, leeks, asparagus, fennel etc.
- Fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables to ensure you get enough veggies in your diet per day.
- Consume veggies as snacks – carrots or celery and hummus or avocado smash is a fantastic snack high in vegetables and healthy fats.
- Eat your vegetables in whole, unprocessed form – when you begin to juice or liquefy vegetables we increase the sugar content and remove the fibre content – which does not offer the benefits we see with whole vegetables. Smoothies with the fibre left in are a good option for some especially if you find it really hard to get your vegetables in but should be vegetable focused, low in sugar and provide some healthy fats as well to balance the drink.
- Aim for 2-3 vegetables per meal – use fruits as snacks in between or at the end of meals instead of processed sugary sweets.
Other benefits of vegetables:
- Help detoxify the body by increasing faecal bulk and allowing us to eliminate toxins
- Provide numerous polyphenols, antioxidants and nutrients.
- Provide a fantastic source of prebiotic fibre that is food for your ‘Good Bactera’ when you feed your good bacteria the balance is better in our gut microbiome.
- Help Balance blood sugar
- Low in calories but nutrient dense – aid in weight loss and body weight control as non-starchy vegetables are low in calories.
- The high fibre content helps reduce cholesterol
- Good source of Calcium – dark leafy greens are full of calcium ½ cup of cooked greens = 100-250mg of Calcium
- Reduction in Cancer risk
So what does 1 portion or 80 grams of Vegetables look like:
- 1 medium tomato or 7 cherry tomatoes.
- 2 broccoli spears
- 8 small cauliflower florets
- 80 grams of spinach looks like a lot – if you wilt it very easy to consume a portion and is equivalent when cooked to 4 heaped tablespoons, same for cooked kale.
- 3 heaped tablespoons of cooked vegetables – like carrots, sweetcorn, peas
- 5cm piece of cucumber
- Spring Greens or Green Beans – cooked 4 heaped tablespoons is 80g.
- Frozen vegetables are roughly the equivalent of the cooked portions.
Heaney, R. P., & Weaver, C. M. (1990). Calcium absorption from kale. Am J Clin Nutr, 51(4), 656-657.
Boffetta, P., et al. (2010). “Fruit and vegetable intake and overall cancer risk in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC).” J Natl Cancer Inst 102(8): 529-537.