Fruit and Vegetable Nutrition Facts / Five a Day Info
Nutrition Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Body – Including your ‘Five a Day’
A Healthy Diet
You will find a lot written about fruits nutrition information, but I am beginning to wonder whether we really know what is best for us.
I go to the gym everyday and I believe I know what type of exercise does me good. The same goes for my food, I go to the supermarket a couple of times a week and I believe that I know what types of food are good for me. But do you?
I am a firm believer that a healthy balanced diet should really contain a variety of different types of food, including lots of fresh fruits and vegetables (the UK Food Standards Agency recommends between three and five a day) and some starchy foods as well such as wholegrain cereals and wholemeal bread; some high protein foods such as meat and fish, eggs and lentils; and some dairy foods including milk.
How much fruit and veg should you consume for a healthy diet?
I always eat lots of fruit and vegetables and I would definitely recommend that you try to include as much as possible into your daily diet. Whilst I appreciate that it is definitely a personal choice as to whether you firstly like fruits and vegetables at all, and secondly as to whether you include them in your diet, there is no getting away from the fact that they are healthy foods and contain many nutrients which our bodies need to run smoothly.
Fruit and vegetables should actually make up about a third of the food you consume every day. It is important to eat a wide variety as well (and no, I’m really not trying to lecture you about eating your five a day), rather than just sticking to the same types.
However, five a day is a good, fairly easily achievable target, but if you really have problems including your five portions every day – try juicing them instead.
It is very easy to eat just one portion but have you ever timed how long it takes to eat five portions of fruit and / or vegetables? Perhaps not in one sitting, but if you try timing the exactly how long it takes you to consume each portion throughout your day and add it all up – believe me, it takes some time. Five a day would take quite some munching! However, five a day is far easier to drink!
Your time would be better spent, preparing a really tasty juice in your– the only problem you may find with that is that you drink it too quickly. For me, that is genuinely not a problem, and I’m pretty sure that you’ll be back for more!! And when you are, you’ll realize it isn’t a problem either, but sheer pleasure.
Your five a day can actually be made up from fresh, frozen, tinned, dried or juiced, although potatoes don’t count as a vegetable because they are a starchy food.
So EXACTLY how is a portion measured?
ONE portion = 80g = any of these:
- 1 apple, , pear, nectarine, orange or other similar sized fruit
- 2 plums or similar sized fruit
- ½ a grapefruit or avocado
- 1 slice of larger types of fruits, such as melons or pineapples
- 3 heaped tablespoons of fruit salad (fresh or tinned in fruit juice) or any stewed fruit
- 1 heaped tablespoon of dried fruit (such as raisins, prunes or apricots)
- 1 handful of grapes, any berries or cherries
- 3 heaped tablespoons of vegetables (these can be raw, cooked, frozen or tinned)
- a dessert bowl of salad
- 3 heaped tablespoons of beans and pulses (whatever quantity you consume, beans and pulses only count as a maximum of one portion per day)
How To Include Your Five Portions of Fruit or Vegetables Per Day into Your Diet:
If you add one or two portions with each meal and have the occasional fruit snack you will be amazed at how easy it is to eat five, or even more, portions of fruit and / or vegetables a day.
Getting the Most Out of Your Fruits Nutrition. Information:
Some vitamins and minerals contained within fruits and vegetables can sometimes be lost when they are prepared or cooked, so I always try to follow these simple rules and suggest that you do too:
- Always eat fruit and vegetables as soon after buying them as possible, rather than storing for any length of time – or you could take the frozen option instead. The nutrient content of fruit and vegetables starts to depreciate from the minute they are cut or picked, in addition to this, the process of packing, shipping and transporting to the supermarket adds further time for the produce to depreciate, let alone the time spent sat in your fruit bowl or fridge!!
- Always try to use as little water as possible when cooking your fruit or vegetables – you can use the cooking water for gravy, sauces or soups, this way you’ll recapture some of the vitamins and minerals previously lost in the cooking process.
- Don’t overcook. Add your vegetables to already boiling water and keep covered tightly to prevent loss of the steam – this speeds up the cooking time. A steamer works even better and keeps the vegetable nutrition at it’s best.
- Always cover cut vegetables – avoid leaving them open to the air, light or heat. Always keep them chilled, and never soak them, as their vitamin and mineral content can dissolve into the water.
- Finally, try to prevent keeping food hot for too long as cooked foods start to lose their vitamin levels rapidly – they can drop within just a few minutes!
Most people really don’t eat enough fibre. For a really healthy diet you could try to include a variety of fibre-rich foods in your diet.
These foods are all rich in fibre: wholegrain bread, brown rice, pasta, oats, beans, peas, seeds, grains, lentils, and of course our fruits and vegetables.
Fibre is only found in foods that come from plants and there are two types of fibre: soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fibre – This type of fibre can be partially digested and I have read that it may help towards reducing the amount of cholesterol contained within the blood.
Some extremely good sources of soluble fibre include oats and pulses such as beans and lentils.
Insoluble fibre – This is the fibre that the body cannot digest. Insoluble fibre, which can be found in wholegrain bread, brown rice, wholegrain breakfast cereals and fruit and vegetables, therefore passes through the gut helping other foods and waste products move through more easily. So, insoluble fibre helps to keep our bowels healthy and helps to prevent constipation too, meaning we are less likely to get common health disorders of the gut.
Foods rich in this type of fibre are bulkier and so help to make our stomachs feel full, which means we should feel less likely to overeat.
Why Should We Choose Wholegrain Foods?
Wholegrain foods contain more fibre and other healthier nutrients, than their white or refined starchy equivalent foods, such as rice, pasta, bread.
Our bodies digest wholegrain foods at a slower rate, so they can help to make us feel fuller for longer.
A good source of wholegrain foods include:
- Wholemeal and wholegrain bread, and associated types of flour based products such as pitta breads and chapatti.
- Wholewheat pasta and brown rice.
- Wholegrain breakfast cereals – although be aware that some of these can contain high amounts of sugar and salt.
White flour foods are a poor source of fibre. These include white breads, pasta and pizza bases. When foods are processed, the fibre content is normally removed.
Nuts, Seeds and Pulses
Nuts and seeds are excellent sources of protein.
Nuts are high in fibre, rich in a range of vitamins and minerals and are an excellent source of protein.
Nuts are a good alternative to snacks high in saturated fat. They are a good source of mono-unsaturated fat, which can help reduce the amount of cholesterol in our blood. They also contain other unsaturated fats known as ‘essential fatty acids’, which the body needs for good health. They are however, also extremely high in fat, so they shouldn’t be consumed in large quantities.
Seeds contain protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals. The following are a small selection of the types available:
- Linseed – also known as flax
Seeds can also be used for adding extra texture and flavour to various dishes. They can be added to or used as a crunchy and / or a visual topping for a variety of breads too.
They make a really healthy snack and can be added to salads, casseroles and are also delicious with breakfast cereals.
They can be eaten raw, but for added crunch, try dry roasting or frying them in a pan – no oil is required as they already contain enough oil to prevent them from drying out, however you should still be careful with the level of heat you apply.
A pulse is an edible seed that grows in a pod, these include beans, peas and lentils, such as:
- runner, broad, kidney, butter and baked beans
- red, green, yellow and brown lentils
- black eyed peas
- garden peas
They are a good low-fat source of protein and fibre, vitamins and minerals.
They are also a good source of iron. You should perhaps be aware though, that to aid the absorption of iron from pulses, the consumption of vitamin C rich foods / drinks at the same time, can be extremely beneficial, as the type of iron found in pulses is harder for the body to absorb compared to the type of iron found in meat.
In addition, it is also harder for the body to absorb iron if either tea or coffee is consumed within half an hour of eating an iron-rich meal.
Pulses count as one portion of fruit and vegetables, and regardless of how much we consume in a given day, they still only count as one portion. This is because our bodies need a range of different fruits and vegetables to make sure we get all the important nutrients we need.
Pulses can be an excellent addition to soups, meat sauces and casseroles for added flavour and texture ie to help thicken the mixture.
Pulses are also classed as a starchy food and they add fibre to your diet. The fibre found in pulses may help lower blood cholesterol so they are also considered to be good for keeping your heart healthy.
Do you know as much as you should about fruit nutrition?