Fruit and Vegetables – the facts



Recent research has revealed that eating more fruit and veg can cut the risk of dying prematurely by an incredible 42%. As a result, dieticians are now urging us to eat seven portions a day – up from the previously recommended five.

It can come as no surprise that eating plenty of fruit and vegetables will make us live longer.

Packed full of nutrients, vitamins and minerals, they also contain fibre, are low in calories, contain no cholesterol and are as delicious as they are nutritious.

New studies have also shown that the more we eat, the less risk we have of dying from cancer or a heart condition.

Our clean, lean and protein programme is top-heavy on fruit and vegetables for this very reason.

But we often get asked what counts as a portion and whether some produce is healthier than others.

Fruits

Here are some of the nation’s favourite fruits with details of how much constitutes a portion and what the health benefits are:

  • Blueberries – two handfuls. Often described as a superfood, blueberries have high levels of antioxidants. Some claim they help protect against heart disease and cancer, as well as improve memory function
  • Grapes – 16 grapes. These are sugary which is a downside but if you are going to choose to eat grapes as one of your 7-a-day choose red over green. Red or black grapes contain more resveratrol which is linked to a lower risk of cancer and is thought to boost immune systems.
  • Raisins – 30g. Full of energy and contain the same nutrients as grapes but be careful not to eat too many – they are full of sugar – a quarter more than in an equal portion of grapes.
  • Banana – one small banana. These are a great source of potassium but are also sugary. These are best eaten in the morning or after exercise.
  • Apple – one medium-sized fruit. Packed full of vitamins and minerals but eat it with the skin on for extra fibre.
  • Clementines – two. Bursting with vitamin C these are a real boost to your diet.
  • Orange juice – one small glass. The official advice is to only consume one glass a day because the sugar content is so high. If I were you, I would drink water and choose to eat a piece of fruit instead.
  • Tomato – one medium or seven cherry tomatoes. This is a fruit rather than a vegetable and is rich in nutrients and vitamin C.
  • Fruit smoothie – one small glass (150ml). Blending fruit into a drink breaks down the fibre so your body absorbs more of the nutrients.

Vegetables

Here are some of the nation’s favourite vegetables – the correct portion size and details on their health benefits:

  • Onion – one medium. Contains compounds that lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
  • Lettuce – a cereal bowlful. Iceberg is the least nutritious because it is made up of mostly water. The best varieties are romaine, which is rich in vitamin A or rocket which is packed full of minerals.
  • Potatoes – Believe it or not, these do not count as one of your 7-a-day because they are classified as a starch or carbohydrate. Sweet potato on the other hand does. One sweet potato constitutes one portion and it is rich in antioxidants.
  • Peas – three heaped tablespoons. Full of nutrients whether fresh or frozen.
  • Peppers – half a pepper. Green is the lowest in calories but red is the best for you because it contains a cancer-preventing nutrient called lycopene.
  • Broccoli – 80g. This is rich in vitamin C and even better raw than cooked.
  • Cucumber – quarter of a cucumber. This is 90% water so hasn’t got as much nutritional value as you might think.
  • Carrot – three tablespoons. Packed with vitamins C and A.
  • Asparagus – seven spears. A good source of vitamins A, C, E and K and chromium, an important mineral for moving sugar from the blood into cells.
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