Guest contributor: Teresa Mitchell-Paterson, Bowel Care Nutritionist at Bowel Cancer Australia
Eating more fruit and veggies can lower your risk of disease, and even help you look and feel younger!
We’ve always known we should be eating our 5&2, but now there are even more compelling reasons to bump up our intake of fruit and vegetables, as well as cutting down our meat consumption. Naturopath and nutritional advisor to Bowel Cancer Australia, Teresa Mitchell Paterson, explains the benefits, as well as how we can start moving to a more plant-based diet.
+ CUT YOUR CANCER RISK
Researchers have found the risk of bowel cancer goes up by 12 per cent for each 100g of red meat consumed per day and by 16 per cent per 50g of processed meat.
By contrast, eating non-starchy fruit and vegetables has a protective effect against cancer, but 95 per cent of Australians do not reach the recommended intake. We need to be aiming for five serves of vegetables and two serves of fruit per day – it sounds a lot, but juicing, stewing, soups and salads can help.
+ REDUCE YOUR RISK OF HEART DISEASE AND DIABETES
Red meat contains saturated fat and iron, while processed meat contains saturated fat, iron, salt and preservatives such as nitrates. A high salt intake can increase blood pressure and a build-up of arterial plaque, while the nitrates and iron can increase oxidative stress, leading to insulin resistance. If you do want to eat meat, limit it to less than 500g per week, with little to no processed meat (such as bacon, ham, salami and mortadella).
For a healthier approach, include more fish and plant-based foods containing monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats – nuts, seeds and olive oil, antioxidant-rich fruit and vegetables, and wholegrain fibres.
+ MAKES YOU HAPPIER
It’s official – eating fruit and vegetables makes you happy! A large Australian study of over 12,000 adults suggests that eating eight serves of fruit and vegetables leads to an increase in overall life satisfaction, wellbeing and happiness scores. It’s by no means a quick fix but stick with it! Eat at least five servings of non-starchy vegetables (a serve is one cup or a total above 400g) and two pieces of fruit every day by loading up on salads, juices and vegetable snacks.
+ MAINTAIN A HEALTHY WEIGHT
The evidence from a US study conducted over a 24-year period spoke for itself. Higher intakes of certain types of fruit and vegetables lowered the risk of weight gain, how and where you store fat in your body, and helped in the management of glucose and insulin levels.
Low-starch vegetables and fruit such as melon, grapefruit, oranges, apples, berries, cauliflower, leafy greens, tomatoes, and broccoli are more beneficial for weight loss and maintenance than starchy vegetables such as peas, potato and corn.
+ LOOK AND FEEL YOUNGER
Boosting your fruit and veggie intake has the potential to reduce depression, anxiety, improve mood, and help your life flourish within just two weeks. And higher levels of physical vitality are seen where adults eat the recommended five serves of vegetables a day.
Plus, the higher intake of carotenoids from carrots, tomatoes, spinach and kale may increase melanin and carotene in our skin, making us look healthier and decreasing the signs of ageing. The antioxidants in fruit and vegetables also lower skin oxidation and reduce the effect of sun damage and wrinkles.
+ 3 WAYS TO EAT LESS MEAT
- Adapt the old favourites lasagne, shepherd’s pie, nachos with lentils or red kidney beans; these beans taste amazing and take on an incredible flavour and texture with traditional pasta sauces, gravies and Mexican spices.
- Roast vegetables in a good extra virgin olive oil and make this the base for a salad. Keep refrigerated for next-day use or take to work and heat topped with chopped nuts, seeds, fresh leafy greens and dressings.
- Swap meat-burgers for veggie burgers (from supermarket refrigerated sections), topped with hummus, dressings and salad.