Are you struggling to get your five recommended portions of fruit and veg a day? Well you may not like what I have to say. We typically think of protein as your go to food for losing belly fat fast, however fruits & veg are just as important. They provide antioxidants and fibre that protect the metabolism. Furthermore, health experts have newly stated that we should be tucking into 10 portions every day if we want to live longer and stave off diseases like cancer. So how do we include these easily and conveniently into our daily diets for optimum health and a slimmer waistline? Here are my 5 top tips.
Sounds a lot, but here is a simple guide. One portion counts as 80g, which is the equivalent of two tangerines, seven strawberries, or three heaped tablespoons of spinach or peas for small fruit and veg, an apple or banana for medium sized foods or half a grapefruit for large fruit.
Researchers involved in a study by Imperial College London concluded that eating 10 a day could prevent 53,000 premature deaths. Eating five a day stops 32,000 a year. It further found that doubling the current recommendation could stop 7,200 cancer deaths and nearly 14,000 stroke deaths annually.
2. Get bang for buck at breakfast
I believe in aiming for at least half of your intake at breakfast, heres how. Breakfast smoothies are a super way for you and your family to pack in 5 portions of fruits and veggies and it only takes 30 seconds to make! I like to buy frozen fruits and veggies for convenience and cost effectiveness. Add two large handfuls of spinach, two to three portions of frozen berries, one banana, half avocado and some water. I also like to add protein powder to create the perfect balanced breakfast. Blend until a liquid like consistency is obtained. This creates the perfect meal, healthy wholefood carbohydrates ( 5 portions of fruits and vegetables), healthy fats (avocado) and protein (whey protein powder). You can also take the leftovers in a drinking cup to drink later in the day.
3. Leafy Lunch
Its important to know that to raise the bodies antioxidant defences you want to eat an abundance of fruits and vegetables. Include antioxidant rich foods including leafy green vegetables, tomatoes, blue and purple berries, kiwi, garlic, green beans, beetroot and cauliflower in your diet. For lunch create a large salad containing a few of the above in adequate portions served with warm chicken or some other protein for a jam packed nutrient dense lunch. Dress your salad in an olive oil, another antioxidant-rich food which is high in carotenoids, phenols and sterols. You can also make a soup containing your favourite vegetables and protein with some grains for more substance. These are foods that can be easily prepared at home and travel well as a packed lunch.
By this stage you will have probably hit your daily intake if you followed my suggestions above. However, If you have skimped earlier in the day on your intake here are a few ways again to optimise your meal with veggies. Foods like Chillis, Casseroles and Curries are delicious when extra vegetables like onions, peppers, chilli, mushrooms are added. Its also a great way to disguise your vegetables if your kids are picky eaters. Its helps bulk out your meals without bulking the calories and ultimately your waistline.
Its a great habit to start snacking on low sugar fruits like strawberries, raspberries and blueberries particularly when they are in season. These fruits have lower impact on your blood sugar levels that tropical fruits such as pineapples, grapes and mangoes. This means that there will be less chance of you craving high sugar foods later on. Pack your favourite berries into a little container and carry them with you to snack on if you are hungry between meals. Two new studies that gathered dietary information from adults and adolescents found that those who had higher blood antioxidant levels had better body composition, better insulin health, much less inflammation and lower cholesterol.