Posted on 12 Jul 2015 Views 4983 Comments 17
Fruits and vegetables come in many different shapes, sizes and colours. They contain fibre, vitamins and minerals, and are naturally low in calories. Their colour comes from natural compounds called ‘phytochemicals’ which also have properties beneficial to health. Many of these are ‘antioxidants’ which help prevent damage to cells by mopping up damaging effects of ‘free radicals’. This can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers.
As you will already know, fruit is not allowed on the programme. This is because fruit contains natural sugars, mainly fructose which are a form of carbohydrate. In order to stay in ketosis on the plan, it’s important to keep your carbohydrate intake under 70g per day if you are under 17st and to keep under 75g per day for those over 17st (238lb/108kg).
As you will also know, certain vegetables are allowed on the programme. Vegetables are really important to include because of their fibre content, which helps to keep you fuller for longer. They also contain important vitamins, minerals and ‘antioxidants’ which help maintain our health, metabolism and prevent disease. Whilst on the programme, you can include several vegetables, and introducing a good variety now will stand you in good stead for the future and weight maintenance.
You may have heard the phrase ‘Eat a Rainbow’ with regards to fruits and vegetables. While there is no specific scientific evidence that having a balance of colours will in turn lead to a balance in nutritional content, you’re more likely obtain your essential nutrition by eating a variety of different coloured vegetables, rather than just sticking to say, "cauliflower or mushrooms".
Certain vegetables are allowed on the programme (200g per day on Simplicity and Lifestyle), and these fall into the category of green, yellow or white/brown vegetables. In order to show you the specific properties of different coloured vegetables, these have been categorised into their colours.
• Green vegetables – contain the pigment ‘chlorophyll’, which is responsible for their colour. Broccoli and spinach also contain the yellow pigments lutein and zeaxanthin, which are phytochemicals that may help prevent cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. There is also some research to suggest that lutein and zeaxanthin may slow the growth rate of cancerous tumours. The dark green leafy vegetables allowed on the programme (broccoli, spinach and watercress) are also rich in vitamins and folate (and contain small amounts of iron and calcium). They also contain glucosinolates; phytochemicals that activate enzymes which detoxify cancer-causing substances and help protect the body from damage. Try including a range of suitable green vegetables in addition to those mentioned: courgettes, leeks, celery, cucumber, asparagus, green peppers and lettuce.
• Yellow and orange vegetables – the yellow and orange pepper and the flesh of swede are great examples of yellow/orange vegetables allowed on the programme. Swede contains carotenoids, in particular beta-carotene (which helps us make vitamin A, a vitamin which enables us to make hormones, maintain a good immune system and healthy eyes) and beta-crytoxanthin (which has important antioxidant properties, protecting cells from damage).
• White and brown vegetables – vegetables like cauliflower, mushrooms, white cabbage and the boiled flesh of turnip give us a range of different phytochemicals. Cauliflower in particular is a good source of indoles, another important ‘antioxidant’.
If you have come off the VLCD programme and are maintaining your weight, eating a range of fruits and vegetables is really important. As already mentioned, vegetables (and fruit) are a good source of fibre, especially the skins and pith of these foods. Their fibre content fills you up for longer, preventing you from feeling hungry between meals. A good plan is to fill at least half of your dinner plate with a range of vegetables and/or salad before you plate up your starchy carbohydrates and protein. If you’re still hungry after your meal, finish up with some fresh fruit and natural yoghurt, rather than having seconds of protein and carbs. Fruits and raw vegetable sticks also make nutritious, low calorie snacks if you’re hungry between meals.
Consider including a range of different colours in your diet each day, rather than sticking to your usual repertoire of a banana and apple every day. In addition to green, yellow/orange and white/brown varieties (as discussed above), include red, blue/purple and more variety of yellow/orange fruits and vegetables too.
• Red fruits and vegetables – foods like tomatoes and watermelon contain the powerful ‘antioxidant’ lycopene, which may protect against several cancers and cardiovascular disease. Strawberries and other berries contain anthocyanins, also antioxidants, with a role in preventing cancer. Red fruits are often great sources of vitamin C. Choose a variety, e.g. raspberries, red grapes, red cherries, rhubarb, red pepper, cranberries, strawberries, watermelon and radishes.
• Blue and purple fruits and vegetables – the pigments anthocyanins give these foods their colour. Blueberries may also be linked to improving memory and promoting healthy ageing. Choose a variety, e.g. purple grapes, red cabbage, aubergine, blackberries, elderberries, raisins, figs, plums and blueberries.
• Yellow and orange fruits and vegetables - Choose a variety, e.g. melon, apricots, peaches, papaya, mango, oranges, satsumas, carrots, butternut squash, sweet potato, pumpkin, yellow peppers and sweetcorn.
A portion of fruit or vegetable is around 80g. This equates to one apple or banana, two small fruits, e.g. plums or a 3–4 tablespoons of peas or sweetcorn. For general healthy eating, we should eat at least 5 portions of a range of different fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately potatoes don’t count! You may have heard of studies in the media quoting closer to 7 or 10 a day. The 5-a-day message comes from the World Health Organisation advice, which suggests this provides a good balance of nutrients with a realistic, achievable intake. Even with the UK’s 5-a-day campaign, national diet and nutrition surveys show us that only 31% of us are actually achieving their 5-a-day. The take home message is that if you’re not achieving your 5-a-day, eat more, and if you are achieving this target, well done, but include even more!
Contrary to what you might have read in the media, fruit is good for you. Yes it contains fructose, which is a form of ‘natural’ sugar; however when this sugar is ‘intrinsic’ to the fruit, i.e. inside the cells of the fruit, it is digested very differently to table sugar or sugars that are added to food. Don’t forget that when eating the whole fruit, like an apple or some grapes, you also get the fibre which slows down the digestion process.
I hope this advice regarding eating a variety of fruit and vegetables helps when looking to maintain your weight loss after Slim & Save. However please don't hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions or need further advice or support whilst maintaining.Written by Annemarie Aburrow RD BSc (Hons) PGDip, Slim & Save Dietitian.
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