June is National Fruit and Vegetables Month. Ok, so we all know that we should eat 5 a day, and most of us are aware of the antioxidant properties of fresh fruit and veg, that they are packed with vitamins and minerals and that some plant products and plant extracts have extraordinary healing properties. This month we will look at the benefits of eating plenty of fresh fruits and veggies, offer you some great recipes to try out and give you some tips on how to up your vegetable intake.
What counts as Fruit and Veg?
This may seem a silly question, but what counts can be confusing. A portion of each of these counts as one of your five a day:
Nuts, seeds and pulses
These are a great source of protein as well as contributing to your 5 a day. Be aware that nuts and seeds are also high in fat, so don’t overdo it. But pulses are not only cheap, tasty and easy to use but they are an easy way to get one of your 5 portions of fruit and veg. Pulses include beans, peas, chick peas. Add them to stews and salads for a quick way to get one of your five.
Packed with fiber and vitamins, fruit is versatile and tasty. Try a range of fruits in a range of colors; take a fruit pot to work, have fruit in your oatmeal or yoghurt for breakfast, experiment with smoothies. The options are endless and make it easy to take on at least 5 portions a day. Fresh, frozen and canned fruit in juice all count as one of your 5, but be aware that fruit is also high in sugar so too much will make you gain weight.
With hundreds of vegetables from all over the world it is impossible to get bored with eating veggies! Try eating as many raw vegetables as possible; in salads, as a snack (carrot and celery sticks make a great, low calorie snack), and make at least half your meal vegetable based.
Variety is Key
It is important that you get your fruit and vegetable intake from a range of sources. This is because the different elements in different plants combine to offer you optimal protection. As a result, smoothies, nuts and pulses can only count as one of your five a day. Try to mix up colors, textures and sources of your fruit and vegetables, being aware of the fat content of nuts and the sugar content in seeds. A vegetable or fruit from each color group a day will optimize the effects of your fruit and vegetable intake.
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