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Food superheroes worthy of a cape

5-A-Day is a well-known public health message though have you ever wondered why it is so vital to your personal nutrition and health. Almost all fruits, vegetables and an amount of beans and pulses count towards your 5-A-Day (400g) of these nutrient rich foods.

In the UK, we focus on 5 portions a day, though in other countries their goals are more ambitious with the Australians and Canadians encouraged to consume 10 portions. The scientific research is clear and shows that eating fruit, veg, beans and pulses can significantly help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and some cancers.

Their superpowers are due to the vast array and rich source of vitamins and minerals. Many of these are antioxidants, such as selenium, vitamin A, C and E. These antioxidants happily zip around the body neutralising free radicals. These free radicals have the potential to damage our cells and at high levels may contribute to some cancers and cardiovascular disease. The antioxidants found in fruit and veg act as free radical scavengers, sweeping them out of harm’s way. In essence, the antioxidants found in our 5-A-Day are true dietary heroes worthy of donning a cape and fancy mask.

Not just being happy with their antioxidant superpowers, veggies and fruit are also a great source of dietary fibre, which can help to maintain a healthy, comfortable gut. Fibre increases the transit time in the gut and dilutes the contents. This means harmful chemicals spend less time in the bowel. Also, when fibre meets bacteria in the bowel, the bacteria makes a fatty acid, butyrate. Butyrate helps the bowel cells stay healthy, so a tumour is less likely to develop. Therefore, a diet rich in fibre-packed fruit and veggies can also reduce your risk of bowel cancer, other cancers and cardiovascular disease.

Fruits and vegetables also have the added bonus of being naturally low in calories so can also help out in maintaining a healthy weight.

Now you are in the know as to why 5-A-Day is so vital to your personal nutrition and wellbeing. In the next blog I’ll guide you how to pack more of these colourful, delicious fruit and veggie superheroes into your diet everyday.

Happy Eating,

Nina Thomas

BSc (Hons), MSc, ANutr

Registered Associate Nutritionist & Food Scientist

Bridgford & Bingham Nutrition

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