Fruit and vegetables can help protect you from cancer and heart disease, theyre an essential part of any healthy balanced diet. So why arent we all eating our five a day?
The Scientific Facts
Scientific studies have shown that fruit and vegetables can help protect against cancer. One particular study has also shown that they contain something called Salvestrols, which are believed to have an active role in fighting cancer and form part of a fruit and/or vegetables natural ability to fight off fungus and bacteria.
Other reasons why we should eat five a day?
It simply helps to maintain a healthy balance in the body. It gives you a greater source of vitamins and minerals, as many are naturally high in vitamin C, potassium and folic acid. Theyre also a fantastic source of fibre and antioxidants that build-up protection for your body in the future.
So why arent we all eating five a day?
Surprisingly, despite all the benefits that eating fruit and vegetables offers us, the average person in northern Europe eats less than three portions per day. If we take into account the boom in processed and prepacked foods, its easy to understand why we are on the verge of an obesity epidemic.
What counts towards your five a day?
Any fruit and vegetables you eat will count towards your daily total, which includes tinned, stewed, dried or even juiced. Whether you add fruit to your cereal in the morning, nibble on a few dates before lunch or add some chopped tomatoes to your pasta sauce it all counts towards your daily total.
How should you choose your fruit and vegetables?
Without a doubt the best way is to pick the ones that are in season. Youll find it much easier to choose seasonal produce if you pick up your fruit and vegetables at a local market. Choose those that look crisp and fresh, and try to avoid limp, bruised or shrivelled produce.
Dont miss out on your nutrients
The way you prepare your fruit and vegetables can greatly reduce the level of nutrients you can derive from them. For instance, if you juice an orange youll reduce the amount of fibre you eat (as its left behind during juicing), whilst the juice will have higher sugar content.
Natural is best to get the most nutrients, give your fruit a good scrub and eat as nature intended raw. Try not to peel your fruit as vitamins sit just under the skin.
Prepare your vegetables just before you are ready to cook them. Drop them into boiling water and dont soak them for too long as vitamins can leak out into the cooking water. Steaming is generally considered to be the best way to cook vegetables and despite what most people believe, micro waving is another great and healthy way to cook.
How should you store your fruit and vegetables?
Take into consideration that heat and light will destroy some vitamins. So store them at the bottom of the refrigerator or in a cool dark cupboard. With frozen foods, use within the time stated on the label. Freezing actually slows down vitamin loss, so at certain times of the year, frozen vegetables may have more vitamins than fresh ones.