As the Fit 6 are soon to reach the halfway point they will be feeling the health benefits more than ever of a clean diet filled with fruits and vegetables. For some of the Fit Factors they will be eating 100% more fruit and vegetables than they did before and they are not alone as only 30% of the UK population manage to eat the previously recommended five portions a day.
Only recently it was in the news that we now need to eat 10 portions of fruit and veg to be healthy, if only 30% managed five portions before how on earth will everyone manage 10? In all seriousness though, eating just seven portions a day can reduce your risk of dying prematurely from diseases by 42% allowing you to reach old age and die of that instead...
Maybe the government should help the UK eat better by reducing the cost of fruits and vegetables as these are often the most expensive part of a weekly food shop? Encouragement to grow your own by offering more allotment spaces? Or maybe, like we do for the kids, make sure processed foods have hidden carrots in them? That last one was a joke, but what are the benefits of fruits and vegetables?
We all know that fruits and vegetables are good for us but sit them next to a plate of donuts and you may prefer the latter. But the donuts don’t help your bones develop, give you better eyesight or prevent colds and coughs. Below I have listed how some fruits and vegetables can make you healthier.
The Power of Lemons
In my career working as a drinks trainer I would slander the Lemon in favour of Limes in a G&T but here the humble lemon wins out (although limes have similar qualities, but not as strong)
I have mentioned this a few times now, the Fit Factors will be drinking a pint of lemon water first thing in the morning (or any time really) and if you do too it can do you wonders.
Lemons contain pectin fibre which can ward off hunger pangs and helps digestion, they also help absorb iron and can help speed up metabolic rate and in addition to all this they actually cleanse the kidneys and although you may think they are acidic they actually help balance the acidity in the body.
Wow, lemons are fab! The saying goes, if life gives you lemons, make lemonade, I say make lemon water and live longer.
Remember Popeye? He was a pipe smoking, tattooed sailor who was strong due to eating tinned spinach, the character may have looked a bit funny and had a squinty eye and an odd taste in women (god bless Olive) but he had a valid point. Green vegetables like spinach, broccoli, green beans, rocket, cabbage and courgettes all contain high levels of calcium and vitamin K which is essential for strong bones.
Vitamin K also helps repair injuries and helps blood clot when you cut yourself. These greens also have high levels of Iron, vitamin C and can reduce the bad cholesterol found in blood and can lower blood pressure. Green (string) beans, contain manganese which helps ward off osteoporosis and helps with PMS symptoms. Phew, that’s a lot of benefits from greens, no wonder mums worldwide want their kids to eat their greens!
Nocturnal vision anyone?
Now here’s a super power we all want, to be able to see in the dark!
When you were a kid old grandads used to tell you that if you ate carrots you would be able to see in the dark and if you were me (a natural red head) you were told your head would be even more carrot like .. hence why I avoided carrots for some time, that and crusts as I have natural curls too!
Now, I still avoid the crusts as I don’t eat bread but I LOVE carrots. They are so versatile, you can eat them raw as a snack or in salads, cooked in stews, roasted and oven baked, all delicious. My newest and favourite way to eat carrots is carrot spaghetti, I use a peeler to remove the skin, then keep peeling whist constantly turning the carrot to get long thin strips, place them in rapid boiling water for 3-4 minutes and voila, spaghetti!! Yum!
But other than being versatile, carrots have other benefits, the saying about seeing in the dark is actually true (to an extent). The main component of carrots is beta carotene which is converted into vitamin A in the liver which can improve vision, help prevent ageing, reduce the risk of some cancers, cleanse the colon and regular consumption of carrots will reduce cholesterol as the fibre in carrots binds bile and fat acids.
Eating carrots can reduce your chance of having a stroke according the Harvard University studies, but the best one is eating raw carrots will clean your teeth and produce more saliva which balances the acid and prevents tooth decay … go Bugs Bunny, now I know why he has such good teeth and can see in the dark.
We all have layers ...
Q: Who wants to smell like a French man? A: ME!
Onions and any of the onion family like garlic, shallots and leeks are packed with an array of vitamins including A, B6, C and E, and they are also packed with iron and fibre.
Onions have long been held in regard throughout history, used as a medicine to ward off colds, coughs, stomach issues and even cholera. The Egyptians buried their dead with onions as they believed the structure of the layers meant eternal life, it would be a lonely life if you ate onions all the time as the smell can be off putting, cooking takes some of the smell away but eating them raw is actually more beneficial and chewing raw onion for 2-3 minutes can rid your mouth of all nasty bacteria, who needs sugar free gum?
But for the sake of the pong they can really help towards a healthy life. Add them to salads, stews and stir fry’s in all colours!
Fruit vs Vegetables
Recent research suggests that vegetables are better for us than fruit, but I find fruit more appealing and tasty. Here are some of the benefits of fruit:
Cherries help calm the nervous system. Watermelons help control heart rate. Pineapple fights arthritis. Kiwis increase bone mass. Strawberries are great for anti-ageing. Bananas give an energy boost and apples can help build the immune system which proves an apple a day will keep the doctor away!
Other benefits of eating more fruit is the high level of water content which hydrates and keep skin supple, all fruits contain antioxidants (especially blueberries) which combat free radical (nasties in your body from outside pollution).
All fruit is high in fibre and full of vitamins, fruit also helps your body rejuvenate cells which keeps you younger and fitter. No excuses then, grab a banana and an apple and you are good to go.
Diabetics should avoid eating too much fruit as it's high in fructose sugars, and you should always wash your fruits and vegetables before eating, even the organic stuff as pesticide are common in fruit and vegetable production.
Although vegetables are fab and a vegetarian diet can be beneficial, good sources of protein are essential for a balanced diet.