We all fancy something sweet from time to time as a treat. Winter puds don’t necessarily have to be stodgy and full of calories. They can be bursting with nutrients and even add to your 5 a Day. This is a golden opportunity to experiment with different fruits and toppings. Apples, Pears and Berries and other fruity delights. Why are they so good for you?
Many fruits such as blackberries, raspberries and strawberries are full of vitamin C, other minerals and vitamins and high in dietary fibre.
They can be eaten raw as a snack or following a meal or they can be stewed and made into pies and crumbles, chopped up and eaten with a little soy yoghurt or crème fraiche or popped on top of a meringue for a light refreshing dessert.
Fruits also contain some protein and are not very high in calories (unless you smother them in sugar or oil) compared to other sweet treats like chocolate so can be eaten in between meals as a healthy snack. All fruits will count towards your 5 a Day.
What is 5 a Day?
Five a Day is based on the advice from the World Health Organisation that we should all eat 400g of fruits and vegetables ( in 5x 80g portions) in any one day to lower the risk of certain illnesses such as coronary heart disease, obesity, strokes and Type 2 Diabetes (non-insulin dependent).
It is important to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables so that you get the right combination of vitamins and minerals in your diet as different fruits and vegetables will contain different proportions of vitamins, minerals, other nutrients and dietary fibre
For more information about 5 a Day see: http://bit.ly/7vvurV
The Sciency bit
Although fruits contain a combination of vitamins and minerals, for this section, I am going to focus on Vitamin C.
Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin that can’t be stored in the body and therefore it is essential we eat foods containing vitamin C on a daily basis.
Vitamin C is vital for the body as it needs it to make a substance called collagen. Collagen is a type of protein found in many different types of tissue, such as skin, blood vessels, bones and cartilage (which covers the surface of joints).
The body needs to regularly produce collagen. Without vitamin C, collagen can’t be replaced and the different types of tissue break down, leading to scurvy.
Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid. It has several important functions:
- helps protect cells and keeps them healthy
- is necessary for the maintenance of healthy connective tissue, which gives support and structure for other tissue and organs
- Keeps skin and gums healthy
Other great sources of vitamin C:
Citrus fruits such as lemons and limes; oranges, watermelon, kiwi fruit, cranberries, papaya, pineapple, raspberries, strawberries, mango, quince.
Vegetables: Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, green peppers, asparagus, cabbage
Taking large doses of vitamin C supplements will NOT stop you getting a cold. There is no evidence that vitamin C will stop you getting a cold. As it is an antioxidant, eating foods containing vitamin C will boost your immune system and therefore should help your body fight against the cold but once you have a cold, vitamin C may only help lessen the severity and duration of the symptoms.
- Vitamin C is water soluble and will leach out on cooking so if you do stew fruit make sure you don’t add too much water and always use the liquid component for your crumbles, pies and pastries.
- Carry a small piece of fruit in your bag for when you get peckish
- Always have fruit available and in reach of children at home – that way they can try different fruits and expand the varieties they will eat
- Small pieces of chopped fruits look colourful on skewers as fruit kebabs and are easy and fun to eat as well
- Fresh, canned, dried and frozen fruits all count towards your 5 a Day. Some fruit smoothies will count for 1 or 2 (depending on how many portions of fruit has been used to make it) Fruit juice only counts as 1 of your 5 a Day even if you drink the whole 1l carton!
- Frozen berries can be just as nutritious and sometimes more nutritious than fresh ones especially when eaten out of season.