Lettuce Be Happy – A positive link between mental well being and the consumption of fruit and vegetables.

Fruit and Vegetables linked to mental well being

New Research by Leeds and York Universities shows the positive effect of eating fruit and vegetables on mental well being!

Between 2010 and 2017 a research project (Lettuce Be Happy) has been underway looking at the relationship of eating more fruit and vegetables and the effect on mental well being. It’s well documented of the benefits of eating more fruit and vegetables on physical health but more and more research is being done on the effects of diet on mental health. Recent studies have shown that eating even just one more portion of fruit or vegetables a day can have a positive impact on mental well being. More detailed studies need to be done to find out exactly why but preliminary research is linked to the vitamins and minerals within this food category. With many people not eating the recommended 5-a-day portions, this could be leaving them malnourished in key vitamins and minerals and therefore affecting the way the body functions both physically and mentally.

Link to study report –
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277953618306907?via%3Dihub

Fruity February – Create amazing flavour combinations to banish boring fruit!

Flavour Wheel

With love in the air in February we thought it would be a great time to look at some flavour ‘pairings’ to keep your fruit interesting.

Fruit doesn’t have to be a boring banana or apple – by simply combining a couple of flavours it can turn something mundane into a taste sensation.

Apple – Apples come in many varieties with a range of flavours from sweet to sour, which is why they can pair with such a range of other flavours: Pear, Walnut, Bacon, Beetroot and Blueberries to name a few. If you fancy a change up for lunch try an Apple, Walnut and Blue Cheese baby leaf salad (this has to be one of my favourite salads). The fresh sweetness of the apple and the creamy blue cheese with a drizzle of balsamic dressing… quick simple and super tasty!

Orange – I don’t think you can beat the smell of a freshly peeled orange: the citrus smell wakens the senses with a wave of energy. Orange flavour lends itself to pairing well with a wide range of flavours; keeping it in the citrus family, it pairs well with lemon (more commonly it is the two peels used together to balance sweetness in puddings and cakes).
Orange also pairs well with the likes of mango, melon, carrots and pineapple. A small amount of pineapple is sometimes added to freshly squeezed orange juice to enhance the natural flavour, as they both have naturally similar flavour palette.

Banana – Oh the humble banana, it is quite a flavour changer; as the skin colours, the flavour of the flesh changes and therefore different ripeness of bananas go with different flavours. This is also why you will find that people like their bananas at different ripeness to eat as the flavour changes. I personally like a nice yellow banana when it is still firm.
Banana lends itself well to roasted and heavily spiced flavours along with Cherry, Coconut, Pineapple and Peanut. I love the combination of banana, coconut and pineapple, it makes a delicious and filling smoothie, a great way to start your day!

Raspberry – Have a lovely sweet and sour flavouring with the seeds bringing a slight woody taste. Raspberries pair well with fruits with similar sweet and sour properties like pineapple, apricots and blackberries. They also pair well with herbal flavours such as mint and basil. Raspberries also carry an undertone of dairy which is why they also pair well with cream, yogurt and soft cheeses.
If your looking for a way to pep up your flavours in the summer why not try some fresh raspberries and pineapples and a little fresh chopped basil sprinkled over the top, refreshing!

Strawberry – A great British favourite not only in summer but all year round and actually the worlds favourite berry! Strawberry pairs well with a number of flavours such as cucumber, grape, coconut, hazelnut and melon to name a few.
But did you know that tomatoes and strawberries actually carry very similar flavour propriety, so much so that they can actually substitute each other in many situations? This is due to the tomato containing something called strawberry furanone, found in especially high levels in homegrown tomatoes in high summer. Apparently avocado, mozzarella and strawberry salad is a big flavour hit; I might give this a go in summer…watch this space!

Mint – I thought I would pop mint in here at the end as it is such a quick and easy way to add a bit of pizazz to many fresh fruits such as lemon, lime, mango, melon (especially watermelon), raspberries, strawberries, and oranges – really the list could go on. My top tip for mint would be finely chopping some fresh mint and sprinkling it over any mixed fruit salad – Yummy!

Prevention is better than cure!

Secretary of State Matt Hancock

On November 5th the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock released a document called “Prevention is better than cure; our vision to help you live well for longer” the document covers many areas, one being The Workplace.

The document explains “The way jobs are designed makes an important difference. The features of good work include good relationships with colleagues, healthy physical conditions, job security and adequate pay, and skills training with potential for progression. This affects both our physical health (including the time spent sitting down) and our mental health (our sense of control, and levels of stress and anxiety). Advice on debt and benefits is also critical given the important link between income and health.”

With a significant amount of our week being spent at work the document also states that “The workplace is also a great setting for reaching people with messages promoting and encouraging healthy lifestyles – including on smoking, eating healthily and staying active. Many businesses are already taking action in this space, and see the benefits of higher staff morale, and lower rates of sickness absence. In the end, a healthy workforce is a more productive one. More employers should follow suit to help improve the health of their staff and of the nation.”

Labour’s shadow children’s minister Tracy Brabin speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, said: “It’s about pay and conditions and wellbeing in the workplace. If you don’t know if you’re going to work tomorrow, an apple’s not going to do it.” also saying “it failed to address bigger issues in the employment sector.”

I agree an apple isn’t going to make someone want to go to work, but as part of a bigger picture an apple could make a big difference. It’s about creating a good workplace culture; making the working environment a positive place and supporting employees mentally and physically. It’s lots of small preventative changes that need to happen; eventually leading to big change that can be sustained.

To snack or not to snack…

To snack or not to snack blog

… that is a good question.

The definition of Snack in the dictionary is ‘a small amount of food eaten between meals’, but is snacking actually good for us?

The word ‘snack’ is often automatically linked to crisps, chocolate, cakes and other high fat/high sugar items which are quick to grab and eat. In the last 3 or 4 years this has become challenged by a ‘new breed’ of snacks the ‘Healthy Snacks’.

So what are the Pros and Cons of snacking?

Pros

• Can be a great away to add in extra fruit and vegetables to your daily intake
• Can reduce the risk of overeating at meal times
• Helps sustain energy levels through out the day

Cons

• Can be used as an excuse to over eat
• Can add to daily calorie intake, which could lead to weight gain
• Classing snacks as a meal can lead to a lack of nutrients.

So to answer the question snacking can be good for you, but on balance it can also be bad for you; it’s all about making conscious decisions about what you eat and when. Snacking on anything should be accounted for in your daily calories (2,000 kcal for Women: 2,500 kcal for Men based on an average activity and lifestyle).

Top 10 Healthiest Fruits

Top 10 Healthiest Fruits

As the saying goes, we should ‘eat the rainbow’, and fruit definitely qualifies with plenty of colourful options, each giving their own nutritional benefits. So which ones should we be eating for maximum nutrition?
As always a balanced approach is the best and having a good mixture of various fruits will help you all round. However, some fruits are especially good for us, or for helping us in different areas.

1. Peaches and nectarines: Packed with potassium
2. Pineapple: Powerful anti-inflammatory
3. Grapes: Heart healthy
4. Kiwi: Loaded with vitamins
5. Mangoes: Immunity boosters
6. Apples: Brain and heart healthy
7. Pomegranates: More antioxidants than red wine or green tea
8. Grapefruit: Vitamin C powerhouse
9. Bananas: Healthy on-the-go snack
10. Blueberries: Anti-aging powerhouses

Head over to Readers Digest to find out exactly what makes each of these fruits so great.

https://www.rd.com/health/healthy-eating/healthiest-fruits/

The Top 5 Snacks for Energy

5 top snacks for energy

Here are the best 5 snacks that we’ve found for keeping you energised and focused through the day. Enjoy!

1. Nuts, Seeds and Dried Fruit Mix

Nuts and seeds are a great source of protein and omega 3 fatty acids which provide energy to muscles and organs. Dried fruits are very nutrient dense, rich in antioxidants and vitamins. An ideal portion size is no more than a palm full, as they are high in natural sugars and fats; over eating this kind snack can cause weight gain, but as long as you are aware of the recommended portion size you should have no problems.

2. Apple or Banana with Nut Butter (Peanut, Almond, etc)

Apples and bananas are full of fibre, helping the body’s gastric system keep moving. Fibre also makes you feel fuller for longer. Apples and bananas are both bursting with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants which help keep your body working all day long.

The nut butter is the same as eating nuts and seeds, being a great source of protein and omega 3.

3. Dark Chocolate (at least 70% Cocoa)

Dark chocolate is full of antioxidants which help prevent cell damage. Dark chocolate also helps blood flow to the brain so in turn helps with cognitive function and concentration. It also contains something called phenylethylamine which encourages the brain to release endorphins which help lift our moods.

4. Yoghurt

Yoghurt is full of healthy protein which keeps you feeling fuller for longer (helping you avoid reaching for sugary snacks when you feel peckish), as well as being essential for repairing tissue in your body. It is also full of probiotics (good bacteria) which helps keep your gut healthy and able to absorb more nutrients, which in turn helps strengthen the immune system.

Try to stick to Natural Yoghurt and avoid low-fat varieties as these can be filled with sweeteners and flavourings; you are better having a small serving of full-fat yoghurt then a serving of low-fat.

5. Dark Berries and Grapes

As a general rule the darker the fruit the higher in antioxidants they are, so red grapes, blueberries, and blackberries are crammed full. They are also full of vitamins and minerals which support the immune system and contain natural sugars to give you a longer lasting more stable energy boost. Berries and grapes also have a high water content so they help keep you hydrated, which is a huge plus when it comes to energy and concentration.

10 reasons why fruit is your best friend

Fruit is your best friend

Fruit has all sorts of attractive qualities, but here are our top 10 reasons we should all make friends with fruit.

1. High water content – Many fruits are made up of over 85% water which means eating fruit helps hydrate you and keeping your body hydrated is kind of one of those things we have to do to stay alive. Being hydrated also helps with concentration levels (as I type sipping on my water which is very unusual for me, but writing this is reminding me to DRINK MORE).

2. Natural sugar – Fruit is full of natural sugar (don’t run away screaming yet): natural sugar is the sugar we should be eating – it’s the naughty refined sugars that goes into cakes and chocolate that causes peaks and troughs in your blood sugar causing problems like mood swings, lack of concentration and feeling tired. Natural sugar actually helps stabilise blood sugar so you don’t get the craving for more that you get when you eat refined sugars.

3. Antioxidants – Antioxidants are the good guys in fruit, they help protect the cells from becoming damaged by the free radicals which we encounter when we are exposed to chemicals (such as pollution). Believe it or not the tiny little blueberry is one of the best sources of antioxidants, also other types of berries and darker skinned fruits like plums and red grapes are full of these little warriors!

4. Good source of dietary fibre – Most fruits are high in dietary fibre and this is great for making you feel fuller for longer. Dietary fibre is also key for keeping your gut health and moving.

5. Naturally low fat – Fruit is naturally low in fat; in fact most fruit does not contain any fat.

6. Good for your skin – ‘You are what you eat’ and this is very true when it comes to your skin. The high water content in fruit is a bonus for your skin; keeping hydrated keeps your system flushed through which helps prevent breakouts. Also hydration helps prevent dry spots and the antioxidants help prevent cell damage.

7. Brain power – Did you know your gut and your brain work together? Your gut sends messages to the brain about producing hormones that affect our cognitive function, so our ability to process new information and focus on the task in hand and our guts are stimulated by when and what we eat.

8. Supports the immune system – We all know vitamins and minerals are good for supporting our immune system and fruit is packed full of them. Eating a variety of colourful fruits means you will get a great variation of vitamin and minerals.

9. Lowers the risk of developing some diseases – Eating the recommended daily intake of fruit and vegetables can help lower the risk of developing some diseases such as heart disease, stroke and some cancers. Fruits such as apples, grapes and citrus fruits can lower cholesterol as they are rich in Pectin which lowers LDL cholesterol (the bad one).

10. Easy to grab and eat – Fruit is easy to have in your bag, on your desk or on the side at home, most fruits are a simple pick it up and eat it, some others may take up a little more time like having to peel it but that’s not to complicated (unless your me with an orange – I always struggle to get them started, maybe I need more practice).

After reading all that who else is reaching for the fruit? Better skin, better concentration, help lower some risks to diseases – definitely my new best friend!