Shaping Up: Five ways you can increase your fruit and veg intake

A melon, cucumber and lime smoothie.
A melon, cucumber and lime smoothie.
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Fruit and veg is a hot topic in the health and fitness world at the moment.

A study came out earlier this year stating that we should increase our intake from five portions a day to 10-a-day!

Five portions of fruit and veg a day is good for you, but 10 is much better and could prevent up to 7.8 million premature deaths worldwide every year, say scientists.

Eating up to 800g of fruit and vegetables –equivalent to 10 portions and double the recommended amount in the UK – was associated with a 24% reduced risk of heart disease, a 33% reduced risk of stroke, a 28% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, a 13% reduced risk of total cancer, and a 31% reduction in premature deaths.

From my experience, a lot of people struggle to even get five-a-day, never mind 10, so I thought I’d share some tips on how to increase your fruit and veg intake without feeling like you’re going to turn into a cucumber.

Before we get to the tips, let’s have a look at what 10-a-day, or 800g of fruit and veg, actually looks like …

2 kiwi fruit

1 apple

1 pear

½ grapefruit

8 cauliflower florets

1 orange juice

3 tablespoons of peas

2 broccoli spears

1 tomato

1 banana

When viewing that list, it may look like a lot, but there are some easy ways of increasing your intake.

Here are five suggestions to try at home.

1. KEEP YOUR FRUIT BOWL WELL STOCKED

Always keep your fruit bowl well stocked and when you’re feeling peckish grab a piece of fruit for a snack.

2. MAKE SOUPS

Soups are easy to make and they keep quite well – you can freeze most of them.

They are convenient to take in a container or a flask for your lunch.

For an example of this, here’s a simple but really tasty tomato and chilli soup recipe to try.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

12 large vine tomatoes

2 red onions

2 red chillies

Fresh basil roughly chopped

Extra virgin olive oil

Method:

Half the tomatoes. Cut onion into segments. Chop the chilli and remove the seeds. Place all onto a baking tray and drizzle with a little olive oil. Then roast the vegetables in the oven (200 degrees) for 30 minutes.

Remove the roast veg and place it in a blender along with the basil. Blend until it reaches a smooth consistency.

3. SMOOTHIES FOR BREAKFAST

You can pack lots of fruits and vegetables into a smoothie. Have one at breakfast time to get an instant boost of vitamins.

Try this refreshing melon, cucumber and lime smoothie.

Take a quarter of a honeydew melon, remove the seeds then cut the flesh away and chop into chunks.

Cut half a cucumber into pieces.

Put all into the blender with the zest of the lime (grated) and squeeze in the lime juice. Blend until smooth.

4. MAKE A FRUIT SALAD

When you have pieces of fruit in the house that are starting to turn, chop them all up in to pieces and toss them together in a bowl.

Fruit salads make great snacks and desserts.

You could add a spoonful of natural yoghurt and a drizzle of honey too.

5. VEGGIE PACKED OMELETTES

Try going lighter on the eggs and heavy on the vegetables.

To add nutrients and mass to your omelettes, toss in steamed or lightly sautéed veggies like spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, olives, onions, and garlic for a delicious breakfast.

Your Trainer: Graham Low, owner of East Coast Fitness, is an award-winning personal trainer based in Seaham.

The ex-professional footballer was nominated for the Small Business of the Year and Leisure Awards at the Sunderland Echo Portfolio Awards last year.

Graham won the Leisure Award at the North East Hotels Association Awards while working as gym manager at Seaham Hall in 2012.

For personal training, boot camps, small group training and online programmes email graham@eastcoast-fitness.com or visit www.eastcoast-fitness.com