Nutrition

3 Reasons Why Vegetables are Better Than Fruits

We all know that we should eat at least 5 fruits and vegetables per day, but did you know that the majority should be vegetables and not fruits. Why? Here’s your top 3 reasons.

1.The sugar issue

Graph made by PhD Nutritionist Alice Callahan

For starters vegetables tend to be much lower in sugar than fruit and this is always a bonus. Less sugar means more balanced hormones and insulin levels (which in turn helps to control hunger and cravings) and also less likelihood of carbs being stored as fat. In fact, in a previous post I had mentioned the burden sugar places on our liver and how excess sugar is stored as fat. So it is important to be aware of all forms of sugar, even those from natural sources.

2.More valuable to your health 

Secondly, it has been scientifically proven that vegetables have a more beneficial impact on health than fruit. One study found that “each daily portion of fresh vegetables reduced the overall risk of death by 16% percent” compared to just 4% for fresh fruit and zero for fruit juices.

3.Vegetables vs fruits – the battle of nutrients

This perhaps is due to the fact that vegetables also tend to be slightly higher in nutrients than fruit. For example, vegetables are much higher in iron, folate, vitamin A and calcium content.

All graphs made by PhD Nutritionist Alice Callahan

What I usually do is have 2 servings of cooked vegetables at lunch and another 3 raw servings (i.e. salad) at dinner. I tend to have 1 or 2 pieces of fruit early in the day and/or after a workout. This brings me to about 7 daily servings of vegetables and fruits which according to this study is the optimum number as anything higher than that did not show any further increase to health benefits.

So now you know why that nursery rhyme went like: “Vegetables, vegetables. You’ve got to eat your vegetables!” 🙂

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7 Reasons Why Governments (and you!) Should Take Action Against Sugar

This week the British Medical Association announced plans to propose a 20% tax on sugary drinks with the funds levied to be used to subsidise the sale of fruit and vegetables. Of course, their proposal is based on a detailed research, the report of which found that poor diet costs UK’s National Health Services 6 billion pounds a year and results in 70,000 deaths.

Sweet tooth: This graphic shows how many teaspoons of sugar are in each of the fizzy drinks and sugar-laden juices above. Doctors will today demand that sugary drinks be taxed at 20 per cent to tackle the obesity crisis

We are drowning in a world of sugar. Image Copyright: Daily Mail

Should this tax be imposed it is estimated that the number of obese people in the UK will go down by 180,000. The success of such a tax has been seen in Mexico, which was the first country to introduce a similar levy in 2014. Other countries who have already applied a ‘sugar tax’ include France, Finland and Hungary.

However, the British Government and Food Industry Federation are against the tax, claiming it will hit the poorest people. Clearly, the problem of regulating sugar has no simple solution, yet many studies have shown undeniable links between it and health problems.

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Photo credit: Uwe Hermann

So here are 7 reasons why governments (and you!) should put up a fight against sugar:

  1. Sugar is highly addictive as it activates the same parts of the brain as drugs.
  2. It is the root of many health problems, not just insulin resistance and diabetes.
  3. Sugar messes up your hormones and has a fat-promoting effect (=risk of obesity)
  4. In fact, sugar can (indirectly) cause cancer! A high-sugar diet may contribute to excess weight gain, and obesity is associated with an increased risk of developing several types of cancer (oh and by the way, cancer cells feed on sugar, just like bacteria and parasites).
  5. Sugar is much more harmful than saturated fat – studies show that large amounts of fructose can raise bad cholesterol (LDL) in as little as 10 weeks.
  6. It puts a lot of stress on the liver, as it is the only organ that processes this sweet poison. Excess sugar is turned into fat, some of which remains in the liver causing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
  7. Other sugar-induced issues include: fatigue, uncontrollable cravings, brain fog and aging skin.

The Take Home Message:

Don’t confuse sugar with actual fuel / energy sources. If you are tired  have a coffee – you will not experience the post-sugar crash. If you need fuel for a tough workout opt for carbs as muscles don’t feed on sugar (which is processed in the liver). In reality, sugar (especially the one added to commercial foods) has no nutritional value so you are better off with fresh fruit, dark chocolate and spices like cinnamon. If you really can’t survive without adding some sugar, then opt for stevia and try to consume no more than 7 teaspoons of the white stuff a day.