There are some great questions that are asked over and over again by clients who are keen to optimise their health.
Is 5 a day enough or should I be eating more?
This is based on advice from the World Health Organisation which recommends eating a minimum of 400g of fruit and vegetables a day to lower the risk of heart disease, certain cancers, and stroke.
However, a growing body of research suggests that eating more may help you to live longer. A study by Imperial College London concluded that people who ate more than the 5 a day recommendation continued to benefit from every portion and in fact the latest advice is to eat nearer 8-10 portions to maximise health.
Take Action So start by trying to eat 1 more a day and build it up from there. One portion is 80g of any fresh or frozen fruit, vegetable (except potatoes) or 30g of dried fruit. This equates to one small apple or banana, one large clementine, about 6 strawberries, 10 blueberries, 3 broccoli florets 1 medium sized carrot or parsnip.
Aim for 2-3 portions of salad vegetables with lunch and 3-4 vegetables with dinner; have a portion of berries with breakfast and a piece of fruit as a snack during the day, and it all soon builds up.
How many eggs can I have per week?
There is no recommended daily allowance or limit, and eggs can be enjoyed as part of a healthy balanced diet. It is a myth that they are bad for your heart as the cholesterol they contain is not likely to affect your blood cholesterol level; it is the saturated fat from foods like fatty meat, processed meats, cakes, biscuits, and chocolate that is more likely to clog your arteries.
Take Action Remember that poaching or boiling is healthier than frying in fat or scrambling in butter!
Are nuts and seeds fattening?
Although nuts are high in fat, its mainly the healthier unsaturated kind which can help reduce cholesterol especially almonds, walnuts are good for brain health and brazil nuts contain selenium which is supports the immune system. They can also curb hunger and prevent over-eating.
Take Action Eat as part of a regular diet but limit intake to 30g per day, ideally as a snack in between meals to help maintain blood sugar level and energy. However, avoid salted and honey roast varieties as they contain high levels of salt and sugar.
What is the limit for red meat?
According to the World Cancer Research Fund, there is strong evidence that red and processed meats contribute to the onset of colorectal cancer. They therefore recommend that we limit our intake of red meat to roughly 3 portions per week (350g-500g cooked weight) with little if any, processed meat such as ham, bacon, beef jerky, corned beef, salami, pepperoni, and hot dogs.
Take Action It is best to avoid processed meats completely or restrict it to around 70g per day which is the equivalent to 2 rashes of bacon or 1 and half sausages – and to grill rather than fry.
Try to aim for at least 1 meat free day per week.
Is red wine good for my heart?
Research suggests that any benefit derived from the antioxidants in red wine is cancelled out by the risk excess alcohol consumption poses for heart and circulatory disease; in essence drinking more than the recommended limits will have a negative effect on our health.
It does contain polyphenols which may benefit our gut health, but they are also contained in other foods such as grapes, strawberries, and blueberries.
Take Action To keep health risks from alcohol to a low level, drink with the guidelines of no more than 14 units a week which is the equivalent to 7 glasses (175ml) of wine, 14 shots of spirit or 6 pints of beer.
It is also advisable to have at least 2 alcohol free days a week, preferably consecutive, to give your liver a rest and reduce health risks.