So how did you get on with veggies last week?
This week we’re heading into more well known territory and talking about fruit for breakfast. From adding an apple a day to making more elaborate smoothies there are many benefits to including fruit at breakfast time. Think colourful antioxidant rich berries to boost our immune system, citrus fruits rich in vitamin C to help us fight off winter colds and flu, or orchard fruits packed with fibre to keep our digestive system on track. Each family of fruit provides important vitamins and minerals needed by our bodies. They also come with natural sugars called fructose which is a primary source of energy but comes with a “watch out” not to go crazy. All sugars, including natural sugars can throw our blood-sugar balance off whack if we eat too many and so one of the things we’ll be looking at below is combining fruit with protein-rich nuts and seeds or Greek yoghurt to help better balance blood sugar and energy levels.
When it comes to fruit there is nothing better than staying seasonal and opting for local varieties. They taste better and are packed with a lot more nutrients. As we move through autumn and winter here in Europe that means we’re currently seeing all the orchard fruits like plums, pears, apples and vine fruits like grapes and kiwis. We also start seeing a lot more citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits and lemons coming from southern Europe and the last of the berries. It can sometimes feel repetitive to only eat foods in season when we’re used to everything being available all of the time and we totally understand. We’re big fans of variety so we’re not going to knock you if you grab the first banana you see! The idea is just to balance the seasonal with the exceptional so yes, grab a pineapple or mango if the urge takes you but don’t forget the humble apple as it might actually provide just the vitamins you need in the colder season.
So what are the benefits of eating 1-2 portions of fruit a day?
- Fruits contain fructose sugars and are a natural source of carbohydrates which is our body’s primary source of fuel so simply put, fruit gives us energy. BUT too much fruit can swing our blood sugar levels so the recommended amount is 1-2 portions per day.
- Fruits are typically low in calories. This varies from fruit to fruit of course but generally they make for a healthy snack option thanks to point no 4 below on fibre.
- Fruits are an important source of vitamins and minerals which perform essential everyday tasks in the body and help us stay healthy. Each family of fruit will provide different nutrients as touched upon earlier; citrus fruits provide vitamin C, whilst berries are high in antioxidants such as anthocyanins, which may protect cells from inflammation and free radical damage and aging. If all that sounds scary just know that our body needs a lot of the nutrients found in natural wholefoods to boost our immune system and protect us from disease.
- Fruits contain fibre (some fruits more than others) which is an important component in supporting gut health and intestinal bacteria balance (eg feeds our friendly bacteria). Fibre also has a beneficial role to play in satiety and weight management, cholesterol and insulin control, and bowel health amongst other things. Where possible, its good to eat the peel (making sure to properly wash the fruit first to remove dirt and traces of chemicals) as the peel provides more bulky fibre which can also help keep us regular (which is often a concern during and post pregnancy).
- Fruit is colourful! You may be wondering what colour has to do with anything however one of the things that all Nutritionists recommend is to ‘eat the rainbow’ and add as much variety and colour into the diet as possible. This is because each colour of fruit typically provides a different set of vitamins and minerals, so the more colour you eat the more likely you are to have a balanced intake.
- Fruit is versatile. Don’t be fooled into eating your fruit the same way each day. Play with preparation and mix up warm stewed fruit in winter with freshly chopped fruit salads in summer. Stewing fruit is especially helpful if you have a delicate digestive system and need to give it a little extra love. It can be added to other dishes too like oatmeal porridge or yoghurt. And let’s not forget smoothies and juices where fruit can be blended with vegetables for a great tasting breakfast drink.
- And last but not least fruit is tasty! Fruits are naturally sweet and delicious and provide us with sweet flavours without the hidden nasties contained in processed foods and snacks.
It’s good to combine fruit with a source of protein to help balance out the fructose sugars and reduce the impact on blood glucose levels. Good protein-rich breakfast foods includes nuts and seeds (particularly almonds), a protein-rich natural yoghurt such as Greek Yoghurt or Icelandic SKYR yoghurt, fermented dairy milks like Kefir, or eating alongside protein foods such as cheeses, smoked salmon or cold meats (think ham and melon OR smoked salmon and figs OR pear and cheese)
So here are some ideas for getting more variety and colours of fruit into your breakfast so that you can start the day feeling energised and ready for action.
For more personalised nutritional advice book a consult with our Registered Nutritionist Claire Sambolino mBANT / CNHC.
Consultations can be carried out by phone or Skype.