So why is it important to eat a healthy balanced diet?
Well, in basic terms, the food you eat is your body’s fuel. Eating a healthy well-balanced diet will give your body the nutrients it needs to run.
This helps towards keeping your brain active, heart beating and muscles, bones and tendons strong. There is also good evidence that healthy eating can reduce the risk of some illnesses including diabetes, osteoporosis and heat disease.
Try to eat five portions of fruit or veg a day. This can be easier than you think; try chopping lots of veg into meals such as stew or stir fry. Try to drink two litres of water, around eight glasses. If you don’t like plain water try slices of lemon or lime.
Research has also shown it is important to eat breakfast; without breakfast your body is running on empty, making it harder to concentrate. People who skip breakfast are also much more likely to want high sugar and fatty snacks before lunch.
Super foods – are they real? There are so-called superfoods but, in many instances, their health benefits can be a little stretched.
Although some people believe that blueberries can help protect against cancer there is still little evidence to prove this. That said, they are high in vitamin K and contain vitamin C as well as being low in calories, making them a good choice as one of your five a day. Top your breakfast with them or add them to yogurt for dessert.
There is a large amount of evidence to support the consumption of oily fish. You are recommended to eat at least two portions of fish a week, one of which should be oily. Combined with keeping your blood pressure at a healthy level it may reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease – the UK’s biggest killer.
Did you know a 355ml can of cola contains 39g of sugar, which is roughly 9 1/3 teaspoons? There is no recommended amount of sugar you should consume as it doesn’t supply any nourishment to your body – but it is advised not to go over 25g for a woman and 38g for a man per day, meaning one can will exceeded the daily allowance.
Most food now contains a nutritional label which can help you determine if something is healthy. So what is low and what is high?
Per 100gs: Sugars – high, more than 22.5g total sugars; low, 5g or less of total sugars. Salt – high, more than 1.5g; low, 0.3g or less. Saturated fat – high, more than 5g; low, 1.5g or less. Total fat – high, more than 17.5g; low, 3g or less.
Some food also has a label on the front with red, yellow and green colour coding. Green is low, yellow is medium and red is high. This can be a quicker way of choosing a healthier option.
This Christmas enjoy yourself but moderate your intake of unhealthy foods. Try a few small swaps – like making open top mince pies to reduce the amount of pastry consumed; swap to unsalted nuts; hot chocolate made with water; and from fruit cake to panettone.