Fruits And Vegetables – It Only Takes Five
The thought of fitting in five servings of fruit and vegetables each day can be daunting because it sounds such a lot, but you’ll be surprised how easy it can be to reach your daily target. A serving is only 80g. That’s roughly 3oz, half a cup, or 3 tablespoonfuls of sliced or chopped vegetables. A piece of fruit, for example, a banana or half a large grapefruit, or a glass of freshly squeezed juice counts as one. Then if you eat a pear, apple or orange as a snack, that’s two servings sorted already. Award yourself a third point for a side salad with your main course. Salad as a main course means a massive three points, so you’ve made it to five already.
Other ideas? A small head of broccoli or cauliflower counts as one. So does an onion or a couple of small carrots. A large jacket potato or a bowl of vegetable soup notch up two points each.
Red And Orange Power
Tomatoes contain vitamins C and E and small amounts of most B vitamins. They also contain the antioxidant lycopene and the flavonoid known as quercitin. Red kidney beans area good source of dietary fiber, folic acid (an important vitamin for pregnant women) and the antioxidant mineral selenium, necessary for a strong immune system and healthy arteries. Beetroot is a good source of folic acid and has long been used as a blood tonic, probably because of its iron content.
Strawberries have been found to destroy a number of nasty viruses, so a drink made with fresh strawberries might speed up recovery from colds and flu. They can also help reduce cholesterol, and may prevent formation of cancer-causing chemicals called nitrosamines.
Oranges are best known for being rich in vitamin C but also contain carotene and potassium. A study showed that an orange a day can be of real benefit in cutting risk of heart disease. For a change, go for clementines, satsumas or tangerines.
Greens are great for goodness, and there are plenty of appetizing ways to prepare them. Broccoli and Brussels sprouts are tops for beta-carotene, a type of vitamin A associated with a lowered risk of cancer. They also contain B vitamins plus C and E, and iron. Cauliflower isn’t as rich in carotene as its green relations but still has plenty going for it, especially if you use the green leaves and stalks as well as the florets. Courgettes are rich in vitamin C and also provide iron, which is good for the blood, and potassium, which helps with water balance. Leeks area great fiber provider, helping to keep cholesterol down and maintain regular bowel function. Leeks score well with iron, vitamins C and E, carotene and folic acid too. Peas have plenty of B vitamins, needed for energy, and zinc, which is essential for the immune system. They also contain iron and vitamin C. Iron is absorbed more efficiently if vitamin C is there to help.
Apples contain pectin, a gentle type of fiber that is good for the digestive system and helps lower cholesterol. A kiwi fruit is even higher in vitamin C than an orange, and it also has iron and dietary fiber.
Yellow foods such as lemons, sweet corn, yellow capsicums, pumpkin and pineapple give good vitamin C value to the diet. Try to include sweet corn which, apart from its vitamin C content, has plenty of B vitamins and first-class dietary fiber. This juicy vegetable is also used as a cereal. In some parts of the world it’s known as maize or Indian corn. Pineapple is packed with vitamin C. There’s twice as much in fresh pineapple as in the canned fruit, and contains natural enzymes which can help the digestion.
Fresh Is Best
Vitamins and minerals are easily lost if food is processed, canned, stored for too long or allowed to wilt. To get the best deal from your diet, make sure your food is as fresh as possible.
Colorful foods such as apples, oranges, bananas, blackberries, strawberries, carrots, tomatoes, broccoli and watercress are rich in antioxidants and flavonoids – nutrients that help protect and repair our cells and tissues. The more colorful the diet, the less risk of heart disease, cancer and other illnesses. Scientists are checking out the recent finding that people who eat red foods several times a week have far lower rates of cancer.
Red is a healthy color for food but, say psychologists, if we have weight problem, we should avoid red or orange kitchen utensils or equipment, and red napkins and plates. And don’t eat in restaurants painted red or orange. These colors encourage us to eat more – which is why some burger bars and cafes choose them.
Vegetables And Fruits Facts
- An average serving of peas contains as much fiber as 1½ slices of wholemeal bread.
- The outer leaves of green leafy vegetables, such as cabbage, contain the highest levels of beta-carotene, iron and calcium, but the inner leaves contain the highest levels of vitamin C.
- Boiling vegetables in lots of water can destroy up to 70 per cent of the vitamin C. To preserve vitamins, use cooking methods that require little or no water.
- One kiwi fruit will provide almost 100 per cent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C.
- Research has shown that lycopene -the natural pigment that gives tomatoes their red color can reduce the risk of heart disease and prostate cancer.
- Spinach, along with other dark green leafy vegetables such as watercress and cabbage, provide good amounts of several antioxidants, which help protect against illness and the effects of aging.
- Fresh pineapple contains a substance called bromelain, a digestive enzyme that can break down proteins and can be used to tenderize meat.
- New research suggests asparagus may help protect against heart disease.
- Sweet potatoes contain more vitamin E than any other low-fat food.
- Cranberries, or cranberry juice, can help guard against urinary tract infections.
- An average serving of broccoli contains over four times as much vitamin C as a serving of courgettes, aubergine or turnips.
Fresh pineapple and fresh mango are available all year round in many supermarkets and grocery stores. Use them to make Pineapple and Mango Crush, a delicious drink and tasty way to increase the amount of fruit you eat.
To make, choose a small ripe pineapple that feels really heavy. Color is important too. Green pineapples can be fully ripe, very yellow ones could be over ripe and not so nutritious. Peel, core and cut into chunks. Select one small ripe mango, the skin should yield gently to the touch, without denting or splitting, and peel and stone. Blend the fruit, and 200 g of yogurt, in a food processor until smooth. Add a handful of crushed ice, blend for a further 5 seconds and serve in tall glasses.
Fruit And Vegetable Recipes
You want to be sure that your diet includes the right daily intake of fresh fruit and vegetables, but how? Here are some simple recipes that make the task easy and appetizing:
- Broccoli, Cauliflower and Courgettes In Ginger
- White Fish and Leeks in Mustard Sauce
- Vegetables in Lemon and Coriander