What’s in a Fruit Serving?
What’s in a Vegetable Serving?
Colour Me Beautiful
Eat a ‘rainbow’ of fruit and vegetables. The colours come from various different protective compounds found in fruits and vegetables. When we eat a spectrum of colour we can be sure we are getting many different vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. No one fruit or vegetable has everything we need, so the greater the variety, the better your chance of eating a wide spread of nutrients too. Fill your plate with colour.
What Do These Big Words Mean?
What’s a phytonutrient?
Phytonutrients are plant components that help to keep plants healthy while they are growing. When we eat plant foods, we also benefit from these phytonutrients, which are thought to protect us against disease and boost our immune systems. There are many different types of phytonutrients, including carotenoids, flavonoids and phytoestrogens.
What’s a carotenoid?
Carotenoids have antioxidant properties that help keep eyes healthy. Carotenoids are found in the yellow and red pigments of many fruits and vegetables, especially those with deep, rich colours. Lutein and zeaxanthin are especially important for good vision. The optimal amount we need is unknown, but eating a minimum of five servings of fruits and vegetables daily should provide sufficient lutein and zeaxanthin. Sources include: lutein (spinach, kale, dill, red peppers); zeaxanthin (red and orange peppers, broccoli, corn, spinach, tangerines and oranges).
What’s a flavonoid?
A flavonoid is a type of phytonutrient that is found in fruits such as apples, vegetables such as onions, green teas and in wine. Scientific trials are currently researching flavonoids and their potential in reducing certain types of cancers and heart disease.
What’s a phytoestrogen?
Phytoestrogens are naturally occurring phenolic compounds found in plant foods. There are two main classes, lignans and isoflavones. Lignans are found in flax seed or linseed, rye, berries, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Isoflavones are found in pulses and beans, especially soya beans. Lignans and genistein (a type of isoflavone found in soya beans) have been shown in animal studies to reduce the activity of cancer cells. Further research is required to provide a clearer picture of the effect of dietary phytoestrogens on cancer risk.
What is the carbon footprint?
Carbon footprint is the total amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases emitted over the full life cycle of a product or service.
What is a Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA)?
LCA is the assessment of the environmental impact of a given product or service throughout its lifespan. The goal of the LCA is to enable the comparison of the environmental performance of products and services, to be able to choose the least burdensome one. Applied as such, one can derive the environmental footprint of a product or service.
How to make climate smart food choices?
Think about what is in season. Seasonal calendars have been a very popular tool to raise awareness of the best time to eat fruit and vegetables.
The popular slogan‚ buying local acquired a green perception as a result of the climate change debate, yet is too simplistic when considering the difficulties in defining the term – local. Today’s EU supply is already largely local, taking into account that 75% of European F&V production is taking place in the Mediterranean basin. Also the availability of non-indigenous fruit such as oranges and bananas makes a significant contribution to nutrition and health goals.
What about greenhouse production?
Greenhouse production is often negatively portrayed. Tremendous efforts to increase efficiency and reduce dependency on fossil fuels (e.g. using cogeneration, waste heat and CO2) have vastly improved the environmental record of greenhouse production. In the Netherlands greenhouse production nowadays supplies 10% of the country’s electricity production. Besides this, greenhouse production also has advantages with regard to water use, pesticide use, land use, etc. Furthermore, it also provides a more stable employment need throughout the year, compared to seasonal peaks in outdoor production.
What is the sector doing to reduce the impact of fruit and vegetables on climate change?
The fruit and vegetable sector has been proactive in developing sustainable agricultural practices to cope with increased requirements and is continuously looking for improvements in the supply chain. The sector has seen the highest uptake of organic and integrated farming systems and is addressing its emissions through the establishment of a carbon footprint methodology, increasingly efficient greenhouse production, improved logistics, carbon offsetting schemes, etc.
What is organic food?
Organic food is produced to strict, legally backed internationally recognised standards. Organic growing and farming puts a strong emphasis on environmentally friendly and sustainable farming practices It avoids the use of synthetic fertilisers, chemicals and/or additives. Organic fruit and veg are more expensive because they require more labour to tend to them. Because there is not sufficient evidence to support a nutritional benefit, many people are happy to buy conventional produce.
A review of 162 scientific papers, published over the last 50 years, found there was no significant difference between the nutritional value of organic produce versus conventionally grown produce. ”A small number of differences in nutrient content were found to exist between organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs, but these are unlikely to be of any public health relevance,” said Alan Dangour, one of the report’s authors.
“Our review indicates that there is currently no evidence to support the selection of organically over conventionally produced foods on the basis of nutritional superiority.” The results of research, which was commissioned by the British government’s Food Standards Agency, were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
What can I do with leftovers?
Here’s how to use up a lot of perfectly good vegetables left sitting in your fridge.
- Pickle leftover summer salad vegetables like cucumbers, tomatoes and red onion by adding them to vinegar and sugar. Try any combination you like and use about 1/2 cup of sugar per 6 ounces of white vinegar.
- Cook leftover potatoes in a number of ways. Combine mashed potatoes with a little milk, onion and seasoning and make delicious potato cakes. Fry in a lightly oiled non stick pan until medium brown. Use leftover vegetables in pasta dishes or over a pizza base covered in tomato sauce. Then sprinkle over your cheese and hide all those vegetables that little people may object to! Some favourites include diced tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers, courgette, onions, and olives.
- Make cheesy vegetables with leftover green beans, broccoli or cauliflower. Make a simple cheese sauce. Jazz it up with a little chilli powder or dried herbs. Add your veggies and voila!
- Keep homemade or shop bought chicken stock on hand. Add any combination of vegetables you like along with some lentils, pasta or rice. Cook on low, and season to your taste, for an easy and flavoursome soup.
- Replace boring sandwiches with tasty veggie wraps for a simple and quick way to use up salad leaves, spring onions, radishes and peppers.
- Make an ethnic dish with leftover vegetables by stir-frying or sautéing in olive, sesame or peanut oil along with garlic. Add teriyaki sauce if you like an Asian Influence.
- A large omelette is delicious and filling and best of all you can use up the odds and ends in your vegetable drawer. Pasta sauce lends itself surprisingly well to hiding vegetables. You can chop veggies up into large chunks or steam and puree to really hide them.
- Soups and stews are the perfect winter food for all those random veggies you never got around to using. In fact many people keep a container in their freezer and anytime they have leftovers, they throw them all together and when the container is full they know it is time to make soup.
- Large salads can incorporate many leftovers vegetables. Using a potato peeler scrape a carrot into fine stands that are easy to mix in a salad. This makes a great lunch to take to work. Keep your dressing separate, on the side to prevent soggy Salads.