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Is fresh best?

English Institute of Sport nutritionist Lucy Wainwright shares some of the benefits for including fresh food in your diet, as well as what is in season over the coming weeks.

1. It tastes better!

Eating fresh seasonally produce tastes fresher, and generally better, as it is ripened on the tree or vine before being harvested and delivered fresh.Eating sweet juicy fresh oranges during the Winter and crisp apples in Autumn are examples of foods that improve in flavour at the right time of the season.

2. Increased essential nutrients

Fruit and vegetables are a great source of vitamins and minerals, which are essential to keeping you healthy and well.They are also high in fibre which is required to maintain a healthy gut, helping to prevent constipation and other digestive disorders.You should be aiming to eat a minimum of 5 portions a day and ideally between 7-9 portions.

3. Reducing the amount of salt

The majority of people in the UK far exceed the recommended intake for salt in their diet, which increases blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.For many this preference for high salt has developed due to the amount in processed foods, where the content can be high where you wouldn’t expect it.

Getting back to basics of cooking from scratch using fresh produce means you are in charge of your salt intakes, and you can use other flavouring and seasoning to add flavour such as a variety of herbs and spices.

4. Decreasing additional added sugars

A diet of high sugar can lead to weight gain, energy spikes, tooth decay and a negative impact on immune health. By swapping some foods with high sugars such as fizzy drinks, deserts, sweets and chocolate, for fresh alternatives, such as water flavoured with orange, lemon or mint, you can reduce the amount of sugar in your diet.

5. Provides a long term healthy style of eating for the whole family

Eating fresh produce which includes a good balance of fruit and vegetables, whole grains and a variety of good lean sources of meat and fish provides a great opportunity for your family to eat well and have all the energy required for the day.Planning meals each week before you shop will help to ensure you have all the foods required to make meals from scratch and save time.

6. Good for your wallet and the environment

Not only is fresh produce good for you, by eating seasonally you can save money, as well as decreasing the impact on the environment, thanks to the smaller transport and packaging costs for food which hasn’t been transported around the world.

Instead of trying to make lots of changes all at once, try making one or two small changes each week. Below are some ideas to get you started.

  • Add vegetables to homemade soups and stews. You can either use them to thicken them up, with starchy vegetables such as potatoes, sweeten them with carrots or tomatoes, or add some colour with kale or broccoli.
  • Snack on chopped fruit and vegetable, rather than always reaching for some pre-packed sna. Vegetable sticks and humus or a mixture of grapes and berries are easy to prepare.
  • Swap a high sugar fruit flavoured yoghurt for natural yoghurt topped with fruit
  • Instead of a high sugar breakfast cereal in the morning make Jess’ porridge or pancakes topped with blueberries, or poached egg and spinach on wholemeal toast for a more sustained breakfast.
  • Flavour water with orange, lemon, mint or cucumber rather than always going for squash or fizzy drinks. Or add sparkling water to fruit juice for that hit of sweet fizz.

What's in season for winter?

Ingredients Nov Dec All Year
Apples X X  
Banana     X
Beetroot X X  
Brussel Sprouts   X  
Cabbage     X
Carrots     X
Cauliflower     X
Clementine X X  
Date X X  
Green Beans X    
Kale X X  
Leek X X  
Onion     X
Parsnips X X  
Pear X X  
Pomegranate     X
Red Cabbage   X  
Squash X    
Sweet Potato X X  
Turnip X X  

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