Count the benefits of seven portions a day

Load up on fruit and veg
Load up on fruit and veg
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Are you feeling motivated now after my last two articles?

Hopefully you have managed to put some of the tips into action and you feel more of an urge to get your trainers back on and get out into the fresh air.

For the past few days I have been following a seven- day detox in preparation for my holiday next week.

I have been a little slow getting started on cleaning 
up my act.

But I’ve managed four days so far and I’m starting to feel much more energised.

I had developed bad habits through lack of time and working through normal meal times and I really needed to get back on track.

Considering the recommended guidelines for health are around five portions of fruit and veg-
etables a day, some days I really struggled to get that many!

Including more fruit and vegetables in your diet is the best way to build up your immunity, get more energy (so avoiding that mid-afternoon slump) and really start to feel healthier.

Eating seven portions of fruit and vegetables a day – two more than currently recommended – helps you live longer, claim researchers.

A new study shows eating more fruit and vegetables slashes the risk of premature death by 42 per cent, compared with less than one helping a day.

Boosting consumption cuts the chances of dying from cancer by a quarter and heart-related deaths by one third, the study says.

Some experts say the five-a-day guidelines should be changed and that really we should all be eating 
seven-plus portions of fruit and veg.

This has come about after a study from University College London.

In particular, they say the new research shows highly reduced benefits from canned and frozen fruit, and little benefit from fruit juice – currently counting towards five-a-day.

The best way to look at this is that the more fruit and vegetables you eat, the less likely you are to die at any age.

Vegetables have a larger effect than fruit, but fruit still makes a real difference.

However, people shouldn’t feel daunted by a big target like seven.

Whatever your starting point, it is always worth eating more fruit and vegetables.

In the study even those eating one to three portions had a significantly lower risk than those eating none.

The best way to start is to replace one snack a day with some fruit or some crunchy vegetables chopped up into crudités with a yummy home- made dip.

Maybe try taking a salad for lunch instead of sandwiches and add different vegetables to that as well.

I added raw broccoli to one of my salads and used toasted sesame oil for a dressing; it tasted much nicer than I thought it would.

You could try a different combination every 
day adding colour to your meals with different vegetables.

If you are going to cook your vegetables then do this by steaming or by having stir fries as this will keep them lovely and crunchy as well as keeping in all of the important nutrients.

If you struggle with your fruit intake then try making a mixed fruit salad.

Again go for colour and be adventurous with herbs and fruit as well.

Mint is surprisingly delicious with melon, strawberries and peaches, all of which are coming into season right now.

Smoothies are another way to increase both your fruit and vegetable intake.

Adding handfuls of raw spinach to your favourite blend will add extra vitamin K and vitamin A along with the all-important magnesium.

And spinach contains 13 different types of antioxidants as well.

Nikki Caputa is a health and fitness coach who works one-to-one with clients and runs her own fitness camps in Fareham where she trains groups.

Nikki is also an ambassador for Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and a UK Hypo-presive Method Trainer.

She helps people master a fitness technique that targets the core.

Visit Follow Nikki on Twitter @nikkifit mum1