Fruit & vegetables
In the Mediterranean diet, veggies are king. We are advised to eat as many different kinds as we can each day.
The government recommends five varied 80g portions of fruit and veg each day, as a way to get a good source of dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals, plus other nutrients. Vegetables are particularly high in folate, vitamin C and potassium.
According to the NHS, a diet rich in fruit and vegetables can help prevent heart disease, stroke and some cancers, such as bowel cancer.
Fruit and vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories and I tend to make them the majority of my meals. Fresh, frozen, dried, canned and even juiced all count towards your daily amount.
Due to the sugars in fruits, we try to have only one or two fruit portions a day, this includes a glass of orange juice at breakfast.
Plenty of us start our day with smoothies and fruit juices, but due to the sugars in them, especially those released when fruit and veg is blended, we’re advised to have no more than 150ml per day.
As an aside, most vegetables are generally low on the Glycaemic Index (GI), meaning they don’t cause a spike in your blood sugar and will keep you feeling fuller for longer. It is thought low GI foods can help prevent diabetes and heart disease. From my own research, however, doctors have been unable to tell me if the cause is direct, or indirect. For example, they can’t say whether high GI foods are more likely to make us obese, and so we’re more likely to develop diabetes or heart disease, or if the high GI foods have a direct impact on our heart’s health. This is something I will be exploring further.