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chickpea and tomato middle eastern salad, 10 serves of vegetables a day for better health

10 serves of vegetables and fruit a day to avoid chronic disease

Do you struggle to eat five portions of vegetables and two serves of fruit a day? A recent study by the Imperial College London has found that in order to prevent premature death, 10 serves of vegetables and fruit a day is better for your health.

The best chance we have of avoiding chronic disease in the future is to significantly increase our intake of fruits and vegetables. The study found that eating up to 10 serves of fruit and vegetables was associated with a 24% reduced risk of heart disease, a 33% reduced risk of stroke, a 28% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, a 13% reduced risk of total cancer, and a 31% reduction in premature deaths. [1]

Tips for increasing your intake of fruit and vegetables

If you are like most adults, you are not even reaching the daily recommendation of seven serves of fruit and vegetables a day. How can you increase your intake so that you are eating more fruits and vegetables? How on earth are you going to increase this to 10 serves of vegetables and fruit a day?

1. Drink a green smoothie before/for breakfast. Half a blender jug filled with green leaves, celery and fruit would contribute approximately two serves of vegetables and approximately one serve of fruit.

green smoothie and figs

Addition – to reach 10 serves of vegetables a day

2. Add more vegetables to your daily meals. This is one of the best things to do because vegetables have very low calorie value. So increasing the number of serves you have at lunch or dinner, will not have the effect of significantly increasing your calorie intake.

– If you are making a dinner with a base of garlic, onion and carrot, simply add leek, tomatoes or fennel. [2]

– Or if you are making a salad, simply increase the number of vegetables that you add to the salad. Some good options are capsicum, carrot, avocado, celery, tomato, cucumber, more leafy greens, radishes, snow pea sprouts or herbs.

salad of cabbage, mint, coriander, bean sprouts and carrot

– Add a garnish of herbs or sprouts to your finished meal. It will look great and it will add some more vegetables to your meal. [2]

– Add more vegetables to your roasting pan when you are dining on roasted vegetables or a meat roast. Some great additions are parnsip, tomato, beetroot, carrot, broccoli, cauliflower, brusells sprouts onion or garlic. I often make a pan of roasted veges for dinner in winter. You can add flavour and another serve of vegetables by adding a basil pesto to your roasted veges. This will add flavour to your vegetable rich dinner.

– If you are making a stir fry, simply add more vegetables to your wok, to increase your vegetable count.

– Add an additional vegetable on a lunch sandwich. [1]

Jaffle with puréed avocado and tomato

Substitution

3. Substitute vegetables or fruit for other foods

You might find it easy to substitute a serving of your favourite fruit in season for dessert or a sugary snack. At the moment I am substituting a few fresh raspberries for chocolate or the ice cream I could get on a long evening walk.

You could also substitute rice for finely chopped celeriac, or blended cauliflower that has been fried in a little oil and then steamed. Another option is to substitute pasta for spiralised zucchini. It is quite nice!

All vegetables are not created equal

While you are at it, you may as well know that some vegetables are more healthy than others. Cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts and cabbage are particularly good for you. Furthermore green leafy vegetables (such as those you put in a green smoothie) are also great. [1]

purex bowl with cut up veges

In the fruit category – apples and pears and citrus fruits are all the best fruits to reach for. Eating more of these types of fruits and vegetables has the biggest protective effect on stroke and heart disease. [1]

Higher protection from cancer can be gained from eating yellow and orange vegetables such as carrots and capsicum. Also, green vegetables such as beans and cruciferous vegetables as those mentioned above are the most protective. [1]

Supplements don’t cut it

The Guardian article also mentions supplements and suggests that whole plant foods are protective against chronic disease where vitamin supplements are not. It is important to get the whole nutritional value of whole foods. [1]

Don’t forget that beans and pulses, such as chickpeas and kidney beans count as both a protein AND a vegetable. So you can add those to your daily count of 10 serves of vegetables a day!

References

1. Sarah Boseley. Forget five a day, eat 10 portions of fruit and veg a day to cut risk of early death. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/feb/23/five-day-10-portions-fruit-veg-cut-early-death The Guardian. Accessed – 4.3.2017

2. Stephen Bush. Eight easy tweaks to eat more fruit and veg. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/mar/02/10-fruit-and-veg-a-day-stephen-bush The Guardian. Accessed – 4.3.2017

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