Eating 10 portions of fruit and vegetables a day may help us live longer and healthier lives, reducing the risk of cancer by 13%, heart disease by 24% and stroke by 33%. Overall the risk of dying prematurely was reduced by 31% according to new research which looked at the results of 95 studies.
These are powerful results, but fruit and vegetables are powerful foods. They are packed with fibre, vitamins and minerals but also a huge array of plant compounds which help our bodies work better. For example, cruciferous vegetables, (such as broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, kale) contain compounds called glucosinolates which are able to activate enzymes which may prevent cancer.
I would love everyone to be able to give themselves the opportunity to reduce their risk of developing these horrendous diseases but realise it’s not always easy to fit 5 portions of fruit and vegetables into a day, let alone 10! But it absolutely can be done without taking too much time or costing too much money.
How to start eating 10 portions a day
Here are lots of ideas to help you to have (at least!) 10 portions of fruit and vegetables a day:
- Buy frozen berries or mango and blitz with banana, milk and greek yoghurt for a speedy smoothie
- Keep some dried fruit in jars so it’s easy to get into the habit of adding a spoonful to yoghurt or porridge (try dried cranberries, cherries or mango as well as sultanas, apricots and prunes)
- Start the day as you mean to go on by adding mushrooms, tomatoes, peppers and courgettes to an omelette for breakfast. Serve with a handful of spinach or rocket (5 portions before 8am!)
- Make your own trail mix to take to work (add your favourite dried fruit to nuts and seeds)
- Simple pack a piece of fruit as a snack. Get into the habit of putting a banana or an apple into your bag every morning
- Pack a vegetable-based lunch in minutes. Fill a lunchbox with a big handful of green leaves (watercress, rocket, etc), add any other vegetables you have to hand (a handful of cherry tomatoes, a beetroot roughly chopped, half an avocado, chopped carrot or celery), open a tin of beans (butter beans, chickpeas, etc) and add those. Add nuts, seeds, tuna or olives and feta and make sure you add a tasty dressing even if it’s just olive oil and lemon juice
- Chop your favourite vegetables and roast with olive oil, garlic and herbs. Use to make a roasted vegetable salad for lunch (add a packet of ready to eat whole grains) or add to tomato passata, tomato purée for a vegetable-packed dinner to serve with pasta, bulgur wheat or baked sweet potato
- Make a big batch of soup with whatever vegetables are on offer such as butternut squash, carrot and lentil, broccoli and stilton. Soup is brilliant as you don’t have to take time cutting neatly, just roughly chop the vegetables, add plenty of garlic and herbs with some stock and allow to simmer so the flavour develops. (Make sure to check back or sign-up to my newsletter as I’II post some of my favourite recipes)
- Save time by leaving the skin on vegetables to cook them. Wash butternut squash or sweet potatoes and cut into wedges before roasting. It’s much easier to remove the skin after cooking, or serve them as they are and let everyone remove their own skin!
- Buy frozen peas, sweetcorn, spinach or mixed vegetables so when you are low on fresh food you can still get to your 10 a day
- Focus on fruit for desserts. Serve bananas and grapes with melted dark chocolate or cut up apples, oranges, bananas and melon and let everyone make their own fruit salad
- Prep once a day. While you are chopping vegetables to make dinner, cut up a few more carrots and peppers for snacks (if you have children they may be more likely to eat them when they’re hungry before dinner) or pack them to have with hummus or guacamole for lunch the next day
I’ll share fruit and vegetable based recipes here and on Instagram and please do share your favourite dishes or tips with us too.
For too long fruit and vegetables have been an afterthought or an addition to the ‘main meal’, often being left out completely in restaurants.
It’s time to make vegetables the heroes they are!