So this is the new way to live forever, according to the latest guidelines.
Forget about five a day; at least ten portions of fruit and vegetables will dramatically reduce your risk of dying from various causes. It will also, incidentally, improve your digestion (though there may be an adjustment period!), help any inflammatory problems you may have, and generally make you feel better.
But how can you achieve this holy grail, while living in the modern world? And by the way, here’s the small print:
1. Potatoes don’t count as a vegetable. They are virtually all starch.
2. Ten portions actually means seven vegetables and three fruits, or thereabouts. Fruits are easy and sweet, but too much fruit sugar is not much better than glucose.
3. Ten different items is the ideal to aim for, not the same thing several times. We need variety to give us a range of nutrients and to stimulate our digestion.
Don’t despair! It is possible, and the claims are well backed up by research. You will need to do some cooking, of course, but not as much as you might fear. And there are some useful ways to move your diet in the right direction without too much upheaval.
First, you can substitute vegetables for the starchy element of any dish. Instead of potatoes, rice, couscous and so forth, try mashed celeriac, sweet potatoes, swede or carrots. Spiralised courgettes, squashes or beans can substitute for pasta, and you can buy these ready-made.
Second, put in more vegetables and less meat when making a one-pot casserole, curry or stew. Add herbs and spices to make it tastier and more digestible.
Third, make soup! Much better than juicing, as it retains all the fibre from the vegetables, and you can pack in whatever vegetables you have in the fridge.
Again, herbs and spices will turn it into something appetising and good for you.
Fourth, get a veg box, or deliberately buy more than you think you need. Unless you can throw food away without feeling guilty, you will find a way to use up what you’ve got. Invite your friends around and make a big feast. Having fun is good for you too.
EDITOR: Su has an excellent Herb Handbook available to buy directly from her website or from Amazon.