Fruits and vegetables are rich in fibre and can enhance bowel function, help with blood sugar regulation and can lead to a reduction of blood cholesterol levels. They also contain vitamins (carotenoids, C and folic acid) and phytochemicals (e.g. polyphenols), which have antioxidant properties and can protect from the development of chronic diseases. Each fruit and vegetable, depending on its colour, is rich in different nutrients. They are also rich in water, which can contribute to keeping your body hydrated. It’s an indirect method to increase your daily water intake, especially for those that find it difficult to meet the daily water consumption recommendations.
Recommended daily portion: 4 portions of vegetables and 3 portions of fruits. 1 portion of vegetables is 1 cup (240 ml) of fresh vegetables or ½ cup of boiled vegetables. 1 portion of fruits varies depending on the fruit. Here are some examples for 1 portion of fruits:
Cereal grains and cereal-based products are a great source of carbohydrates and can make up a significant portion of our necessary daily energy intake. The cereal food group consists of wheat, oat, barley and rice. Examples of products made of cereals are bread, crackers, pasta, breakfast cereals and flours (e.g. wheat, oat). It is advised to include cereals in each of the 3 main meals and to choose products high in fibre (>6 g/100 g of product).
Cereals with a low Glycaemic Index (GI), such as whole grain bread, brown rice and oats should be preferred, since they contribute to a more gradual increase of blood sugar levels and are more satiating compared to high GI foods. On the other side high GI foods (white bread, pasta, potatoes) lead to a rapid increase of blood sugar levels, which is followed by a rapid decrease and consequently causes feelings of hunger to appear. High GI foods should be consumed in combination with foods that contribute to a slower carbohydrate digestion. Examples of such foods are vegetables, legumes, plant-based oils, nuts and seeds.
Recommended daily portion: 5-8 portions, with most of them being whole grain. Examples for 1 portion are:
In nutrition, above all else, it’s important to have a balanced diet and try to include a variety of food groups in moderation on a daily basis. There are no “forbidden” foods – everything can be a part of one’s diet. However, there are of course food products that are more nutritious, such as fruits, vegetables and legumes, which should be included in one’s diet more often. On the other side there are foods rich in saturated fat and/or added sugars and processed meat (e.g. slices of ham), that should only be consumed occasionally, and in smaller quantities. It’s crucial to mention that each individual has specific and unique dietary requirements, so it’s often better to seek advice or even get a personalised dietary plan from a registered dietician or nutritionist.
This is the first of 5 weekly articles – each containing 2 tips around healthier eating habits – in TAKINOA's Healthier Eating Habits series. Stay tuned to discover more of the basic principles of a balanced diet and to learn how you can improve your eating habits.