Eat the rainbow!
Did you know that this year is the food and agriculture organizations (FAO), international year of fruit and vegetables? Considering we are now halfway through the year, I figured it would be a good opportunity to share why we should eat more fresh produce. The aim this year is to raise awareness of the importance of fruit and vegetables, both in human nutrition, food security and through supporting the united nations sustainable development goals.
Fruit and vegetables play an important role in supporting health and wellbeing, both physically and mentally. They contain multiple health boosting components, protecting us against illness and disease. The aim is to consume 5 portions of varied fruit and vegetables every day. According to the world health organisation in 2017, 3.9 million deaths worldwide were attributable to inadequate intakes of fruit and vegetables. On average, 28% of uk adults achieve 5 portions a day. The average uk intake is 3.7 portions a day.
The FAO aims to create and promote policies, laws, and regulations, that maximise the contribution of fruits and vegetables. This will support rural economic growth, food safety, improve livelihoods and promote diversified healthy diets. Alongside, fostering sustainability in the food chain, increasing production, and helping to enhance availability, safety and affordability of fruits and vegetables to foster economic, social, and environmental sustainability.
So, what can you do? Eat the rainbow! Aim for a variety of different colours, from red, orange, yellow, purple, blue, brown, white, and green. As they are highly perishable items, try not to buy more than you need. If you are stuck, most can be frozen, roasted, or chucked into a variety of dishes. Our food systems have the power to transform our own health, fight against malnutrition, change consumer behaviour, and build better food environments.
What is the health halo?
Ever heard a claim that sounds just too true? The health halo effect is the perception that certain words, beliefs or assumptions of food or drinks is healthier than it is, without scientific evidence.
Understanding what to eat to be healthy is so confusing, as there are many mixed messages. We have brands trying to sell us various products, and advice from individuals saying one thing or another. It can be overwhelming! If a product is deemed healthier, it could lead to overconsumption or underconsumption. This may lead to uncertainty around food choices, which is not useful.
- Some foods are given superiority to others, gaining them the term ‘superfood’. Superfood is a marketing term. Yes, these foods are nutritionally dense and should be included in our diets, but please do not put them on a pedestal.
- Gluten is deemed as a ‘bad’ component of foods. This is only the case if you have coeliac disease, where gluten causes gastrointestinal problems and could cause long-term damage. If you decide to cut out any food groups without a real cause, you could develop severe nutrient deficiencies.
- Coconut oil is a popular product with plenty of ‘health claims. (in fact, it is illegal to make a health claim without scientific evidence, and there is a register for health and nutrition claims that are approved. Anything that is not on there is questionable). Use it in your cooking, it adds delicious flavour to curries if you like it. But please do not put it in your coffee, use it as sunscreen or brush your teeth with it because you read it on a health gurus website.
Overall, talk to a registered health professional if you have any concerns or questions about your diet.