YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT

DIET TO HELP MAINTAIN VISION

The best dietary advice relating to vision is simply to increase fruit and vegetable intake and to consume a large variety of different types of food.    No particular nutrient has consistently been proven to contribute solely to improved eye health.

Vitamin A, also known as Retinol, and found in green vegetables and carrots can play an important role in maintaining good eye health.    There is some evidence to suggest that increasing intake of Vitamin C and E could also be of benefit.    Omega 3 fatty acids found in oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, trout and herring may also help to preserve eye health.    Vitamin B2 known as Riboflavin is found in small amounts in numerous foods.    Good sources are eggs, milk, mushrooms, rice and fortified breakfast cereals.    Vitamin B3 can be found in eggs, milk, chicken, beef, pork and wheat flour.

 

IMPROVING  YOUR DIET

There are lots of simple things you can do to improve your diet.   You don’t need to make big changes – a few small steps can make a real difference.

• Eat a balanced breakfast.

• Starchy foods such as bread, cereals, rice, pasta and potatoes give us energy and should make up about a third of the food we eat.    Choose wholegrain rather than refined varieties.   Wholegrain foods contain more nutrients and fibre, releasing energy slowly.

• Eat 5 portions of fruit and vegetables every day – this includes fresh, frozen, canned and fruit juices.    Eat a ‘rainbow of colours’ to ensure that you are getting the best mix of nutrients.

• Cut down on salt – check food labels and avoid foods that are high in salt (more than 1.5g salt per 100g or 0.6 sodium).

• Cut back on saturated fat.    Check food labels (5g or more per 100g of saturated is high in saturated fat).   Check labels for hidden sugar – fructose and glucose.

• Replace snacks of crisps and biscuits with healthy alternatives such as fruit, nuts and seeds, olives etc.

• Eat at least two portions of fish per week, (one of which should be oily (choose from salmon, mackerel, sardines, pilchards or herring).

• Grill, steam, boil and bake food instead of frying and roasting.

 Write it down.    Keep a food diary to understand more about your eating habits.     Plan ahead to have healthy food to hand – at home or just on the go.

IDEAS FOR QUICK AND NUTRITIOUS SNACKS

Sandwiches (use different breads) filled with cooked meats, bacon, tinned fish, cheese or peanut butter.   Add pickles and relishes.

Toast with sardines, beans, cheese, ravioli, tinned spaghetti, well cooked eggs.

Crackers topped with cheese, toasted crumpets, teacakes, yogurt, fruit, malt loaf, fruit cake.

TIPS ON HOW TO PICK HEALTHIER MEALS WHEN EATING OUT

• Have sauces and dressings served on the side.   Pick steamed, baked, grilled or poached foods instead of fried, au gratin or sautéed.

• Limit high salt foods such as pickled, smoked, in soy or teriyaki sauce.

• Choose fruit juice or water instead of fizzy soft drinks.

• Avoid high fat desserts such as cream cakes,   Many restaurants can offer a fruit salad or yogurt – just ask!

• Restaurant portions are often far larger than necessary.   Ask for smaller portions or share.

    

FRUIT ALTERNATIVES TO ‘SWEET’ TREATS

Apples are a perfect snack – apples are loaded with pectin – a fibre that is especially filling.

Dates are a great alternative to sweets, are a good source of iron and dietary fibre and provide a chewy sweet treat.

Tangerines are sweeter than oranges, are easier to peel and an excellent source of vitamin C plus fibre.

Kiwis are loaded with vitamin E and C (more than an orange) and have more potassium than bananas.    The little black seeds are rich in alpha-linoleic acid, an omega 3 essential fatty acid.

  

“WHAT   COLOUR  IS  YOUR  DIET?”

Red and Purple colour range is high in antioxidants and includes blackberries, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, plums, prunes, purple grapes, raspberries, red apples, red cabbage, red peppers and strawberries.  Tomato based sauces and ketchups also come into this category.

Orange range contains carotene which boosts eye and skin health has apricots, cantaloupe, carrots, mango and sweet potato.

Orange and Yellow range which protects cells from damage are nectarines, oranges, papaya, peaches, pineapple, tangerines and yellow grapefruit.

Yellow and Green range is rich in antioxidants and provides further protection for eyes includes avocado, corn, cucumbers, green beans, green peas, green and yellow pepper, honeydew, kiwi, lettuce, spinach.

Green range stimulates the production of cancer-fighting liver enzymes has broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale.

White and Green range is rich in flavonoids which protect against cell damage includes mushrooms, asparagus, celery, chives, leeks.

These lists are only an indication of some of the fruits and vegetables in each colour range.   By including the ‘color ranges’ in your choices, overall health improves with the increased nutritional intake of vitamins, minerals and fibre.

TIPS ON LITTLE CHANGES WHICH MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE

Puzzles

In a recent study people who finished crossword puzzles four days a week had a 47% lower risk of memory loss than those who did just one.

Laughter

A good chuckle releases feel good endorphins into our system, exercises our diaphragm and works our shoulders.   Research has shown that laughter is good in lots of ways.

Salt

Most people use more salt than they should.     Salt contains sodium, and too much sodium can raise blood pressure.    Choose lower salt options when buying food and stop using salt at the table.

Breakfast

Starchy food such as bread or breakfast cereal helps to give energy.   Choose wholegrain versions.   Porridge is a healthy choice and use fruit to sweeten rather than sugar.

TRY  SOME  OF  THESE  IDEAS

WHOLEGRAIN CRACKERS

Choose wholegrain crackers which give your brain and stomach healthy energy.    They aid digestion and help keep heart healthy.

TOSS SALAD IN LEMON JUICE

A healthy alternative to oil laden salad dressings – try lemon juice.

FRESH OR FROZEN VEGETABLES INSTEAD OF CANNED

Canned vegetables contain added sodium as a preservative.    If you must eat canned vegetables rinse them before cooking to remove some of the excess sodium.

FRUIT JUICE

Drink 100% Juice instead of “fruit flavoured” drinks.     You are more likely to get all the vitamins and fibre of the actual fruit with 100% juice.   “Fruit Flavoured” drinks often contain extra sugary unnatural sweeteners so read the labels and find out the actual percentage of juice in your “fruity” drinks.

 

EAT WELL, FEEL WELL

Nutritionists urge us to eat five portions of fruit vegetables every day because they are packed with the vitamins, minerals and fibre we need for good health.  

Food grown locally and in season tends to taste better so choose it when you can.

Different coloured fruits and vegetables contain different vitamins and minerals which your body needs to maintain good health.     Choose from green (cabbage, spinach, broccoli etc.) red (tomatoes, peppers, strawberries) orange (carrots, mangoes, apricots) blue (blueberries, blackberries, aubergine) white (bananas, onions, cauliflower) fruit and vegetables.

Eat leafy green vegetables like brussel sprouts when in season and they contain more vitamin C than an orange, if they are not overcooked.

 

Carrots are packed full of beta-carotene which our bodies turn into vitamin A.    Try roasting, mashing into a puree, grating into soups and salads or baking in a cake.   Parsnips, turnips, celeriac and sweet potatoes are also root vegetables in season now.

 

Beetroot is bursting with minerals and antioxidants.   To cook it, wash but don’t peel, then either steam or bake until tender.   When it is cool you can simply rub the skin off.

 

Pears contain vitamins B6, C and E and potassium and copper.    Poach for a delicious dessert.     Apples are a handy snack alternative to biscuits.   Full of antioxidants such as Vitamin C, they also contain pectin, a form of soluble fibre that can help to keep the digestive system healthy.

 

BEST SOURCES FOR CALCIUM

Calcium is important for bone growth, density and repair.    The best way to increase calcium intake is through a well balanced diet with foods rich in calcium.

Dairy – milk, yogurt, cream are good sources of calcium.    Low fat milk and cheeses are the healthiest option.

Fish – canned fish that contains soft bones is the best meat option for calcium intake.   Select canned sardines, salmon and mackerel.

Vegetables – green vegetables especially leafy ones are high in calcium intake.    Choose collard greens, lettuce, kale, celery, broccoli, green beans and asparagus.

Soya – soy products like tofu, soya milk, soya cheese, soya yogurt are good choices for adding extra calcium in to the diet.

Nuts which are a good source of fibre and protein also contain calcium – almonds, brazil nuts, walnuts and sesame seeds have a high content.

Fortified Calcium – some juice products have been fortified with calcium.     Other fortified products include some breads, grains, cereal and rice drinks.

Herbs and Spices such as basil, thyme, oregano, cinnamon and rosemary have a high density of calcium.

 

EAT YOURSELF HAPPY

The food you eat could affect your mood – some suggestions which may help:

Eat regularly

Skipping meals, especially breakfast, leads to low blood sugar and this can lead to low mood, irritability and fatigue. Aim to eat three meals a day and choose healthy snacks in between meals, such as a low fat yogurt, piece of fruit or handful of nuts.

Eat protein

Eat fewer sugary and refined foods

Sugary foods, such as chocolate, cakes and fizzy drinks, are absorbed quickly into the bloodstream and give an instant energy rush. This will quickly wear off leaving one feeling tired and low.   Instead, choose wholegrains, pulses, fruit and vegetables, which are absorbed more slowly, have less of an effect of blood sugar levels, and are therefore less likely to lead to mood swings.

Eat a wide variety of food

Keep your diet varied and interesting to provide you with all the nutrients you need. Aim to eat a well-balanced diet rich in fruit, vegetables, wholegrains (e.g. oats and brown bread), oily fish,  lean meat or poultry and some low fat milk and dairy foods. 

 

VEGETABLES

Kale  

Kale is full of vitamins, minerals and health-enhancing antioxidants.   Research has shown that the fibre, bone-building calcium and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids in kale help support the body’s natural detox system.    Kale is easy to prepare. Simply remove the centre ribs of its leaves and then slice it into thin ribbons. Add to soups and stews in the last 20 minutes of cooking, or sauté it with a splash of olive oil for a delicious side dish.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes have a high concentration of beta carotene (the healthful antioxidant that gives this potato its orange hue).   Beta carotene, which has been shown to help every cell in the body stay healthy, also happens to be a skin-targeted nutrient.   Studies have shown it neutralizes wrinkles and helps generate new, healthy glowing skin cells. Sweet potatoes are also packed with fibre and energizing B-vitamins. Bake them whole or mash them with milk.

SEASONAL VEGETABLES

Winter is the season for root vegetables.    Carrots, parsnips, turnips, swede, celeriac and sweet potatoes are all included in this grouping.    They are perfect for making warming soups, casseroles and stews and as an accompaniment for roast meats and cooked fish.

Carrots are a good source of beta carotene, which our bodies turn into vitamin A and vitamin A is important for seeing in dim light.    Carrots can be boiled, baked, fried, mashed, juiced, grated into salads or made into puddings, cakes, pies and croquettes.    They are delicious eaten raw.

Parsnips are delicious either roasted or boiled and mashed with a pinch of mace or nutmeg.    When buying parsnips make sure they are smooth and firm.   Avoid the soft or shrivelled ones because they can be tough and stringy.

Turnips have a peppery flavour – try steaming young turnips, grating them into a salad or peel, dice and boil older turnips.    Turnip mash can be delicious mixed with other mashed vegetables, such as parsnips, carrots or potatoes.

Beetroot is a colourful sweet root vegetable.   It can be pickled and added to salads, fried, baked or used to make soup.

 

Don’t forget we should eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables each day.

It is better to eat as wide a variety as one can as this helps to get a range of nutrients.    Try out a different root vegetable today.

  

AUTUMN  VEGETABLES

Broccoli – steam or stir fry quickly – darker heads with purplish hue are freshest.

Carrots – eat raw, steam or stir fry, make soup with celery, onions and lentils or potatoes, bake carrot cake – carrots full of vitamin A

Cauliflower – steam or stir fry, puree cooked cauliflower and serve as soup,

Celery – steam, add to soups, stews and casseroles, eat celery stalks with peanut butter for a crunchy snack, use leaves in salad, use combination of celery, apple and walnuts in waldorf salad.

Parsnips – delicious in soups, roasted with drizzle of honey, mashed with carrots- parsnips are high in folic acid, an essential vitamin for brain function, also contain vitamin C and potassium.

Turnips –steam, mash, mix with onion and stir fry, roast.

Also in season beetroot, brussels sprouts, cabbage, celeriac, kale, leeks, mushrooms and  swedes.

 

SUMMER VEGETABLES

Broad beans – these are best while tiny and tender – cook in a little water until tender and remove the skins before serving.

Broccoli – cut into florets and steam or stir-fry to preserve nutrients.

Carrots – the smaller the sweeter.   Use raw, steam, stir-fry or roast.

Cauliflower – can be used raw in salads, steamed or stir-fried.    Cook lightly for best flavour.

Courgettes – young small ones have the best flavour.    Slice, grate or cut into ribbons to cook.    They can be steamed, sautéed, stir-fried or roasted in chunks.

French Beans – top and tail and steam lightly.

Herbs – buy tender varieties like dill, basil, coriander in bunches and chop them generously into salads, stuffing, omelettes, rice and grain dishes.

Peas (in pod) best when young and small.    Use raw in salads or lightly steamed.

Potatoes – tiny new potatoes are excellent in salads or can be steamed or roasted in skins.

Spinach – choose young tender leaves, use raw in salads or steam and chop.

Tomatoes – grow your own for best flavour.   Serve raw in salads – at their sweetest and best in summer.

Some summer vegetables are around for only a short time so make the most of them while they are in season.    Remember to freeze your favourites for later in the year. 

 

FRUIT

WHY IT’S GOOD TO GO BANANAS

Eating a banana gives you a substantial and immediate energy boost due to the natural sugars – fructose, glucose and sucrose – and the fibre they contain.     Bananas also contain pectin which helps to lower blood cholesterol levels and a protein which converts to serotonin which is mood enhancing.

Bananas are good sources of essential nutrients and vitamin C.    They’re high in Vitamin B6 and low in sodium, which mean they are a good addition to a heart healthy diet.    Bananas also contain potassium, which is understood to help with alertness, as well as helping to alleviate stress.

 Bananas are available all year round and in our opinion should be called a Super fruit.

 

AVOCADOS

Avocado is a fruit that is highly nutritious providing a rich supply of vitamins and minerals and is an excellent source of fibre, both soluble and insoluble.     This fruit contains B vitamin in particular vitamin B6 and is also a good source of potassium, which has a beneficial effect on regulating blood pressure.    Avocados also contain vitamin E, an antioxidant which is good for heart health.   Avocados are higher in total fat content than other fruits and vegetables but are low in saturated fat and high in monounsaturated fat.

   

CHERRIES

Cherries are a delicious fruit with nutritional health benefits.   Cherries contain anthocyanin 1 and 2 which researchers also believe can have a significant impact on relieving muscle and joint soreness.  This fruit contains beta carotene (19 times more that blueberries or strawberries), vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, iron and fibre.    Other benefits include relieving the pain of arthritis, reducing risk factors for heart disease and diabetes, preventing memory loss and delaying ageing process.    Cherries should be fresh or frozen – glace cherries contain too much sugar.

 Cherries are available year round as dried, frozen, canned and cherry juice.

  

DRIED  CRANBERRIES  

Dried cranberries have one of the highest antioxidant contents of any fruit, which means they may help reduce cancer and heart disease risk. Plus, they contain unique compounds that help prevent urinary tract and other infections.  Toss them into salads, bake them into muffins or add them to your morning cereal.

 

 SUMMER  FRUIT

Apricots – eat on their own, bake, cook and puree.

Blackberries – pick from the hedgerows at the end of the summer, rinse thoroughly before use.  Use in crumbles and pies and stew with apples.

Blackcurrants – intense flavour so best used with other fruits like raspberries and apples.   

Blueberries – sweet enough to eat without sugar.    Bake in muffins and spoon over ice-cream.

Cherries – sweet varieties delicious raw, other varieties best cooked and used in tarts, pancake fillings or sauce with meat.

Plums – lots of different varieties – available all through summer.    Most are sweet enough to eat raw or can be baked in crumbles and tarts.

Raspberries – eat on their own, use in ice-cream, fruit salads and tarts.

Strawberries – eat on their own, use in ice-cream, fruit salads and flans – start to disappear from mid-July so enjoy them while in season.

Some summer fruit are around for only a short time so make the most of them while they are in season.  Remember to freeze your favourites for later in the year.

 

SELECT SEASONAL FRUIT FOR DESSERT

Rethink dessert and treat yourself to fresh seasonal fruit rather than pastry and cakes.    You will get that sugary boost your sweet tooth is after while stocking up on some essential vitamins and nutrients.

Summer Fruits include apples, apricots, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, gooseberries, mangoes, melons, peaches, raspberries, strawberries.

  

SUPERFRUITS

The term ‘superfruits’ is normally applied to fruits that are particularly high in antioxidants.  When consumed, antioxidants help to counter the effect of free radicals – molecules that can act to inflame joints, damage arteries and cause potentially dangerous changes in nerves and cells.  Superfruits such as blueberries and pomegranates are often expensive and research now suggests that the same positive effects are achievable from less expensive fruits like plums, peaches and nectarines.

 

Plums contain quantities of antioxidants that match or even exceed other ‘superfruits’.   Plums are rich in Vitamin C and fibre, have low calorie content and also contain lutein and zeaxanthin – two natural pigments that help to promote the health of eyes.  The best time to enjoy plums is in late summer to early autumn when they are in season.  As well as plums, it has been shown that similar fruits like peaches, nectarines and prunes are rich in antioxidants, giving a wide variety of low cost healthy options.  With all of these fruits, it is best to eat the skins as well (making sure you wash them first) in order to enjoy the full antioxidant benefit.

THE TOP TEN HEALTHIEST VEGETABLES

Whereas most vegetables are low in calories and high in nutrition, these top 10 healthiest vegetables are a lot better than others.    So start adding at least five choices a day from this list of the healthiest vegetables.

1.   Cruciferous Vegetables are filled with anti-ageing, cancer fighting, immune boosting phytonutrients, plus vitamin C and K, potassium, calcium, iron and folic acid.    These vegetables are most nutritious eaten raw, lightly steamed or stir-fried:    Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts, Green and Red Cabbage.

2.   Carrots help protect against cancer and improve eyesight with high levels of carotenoids and vitamin A,   They are a good source of vitamins B, C and K, fibre (when raw), potassium, magnesium and folate.    Grate them into salads or eat baby raw carrots as a snack.

3.    Dark green leafy vegetables can be lightly steamed or used in healthy soups, chillies, casseroles and stir-fries or eaten raw in salads and on sandwiches.    They are high in iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium, carotenoids and vitamins, B, C, E and K: Kale, Spinach, Greens, Parsley, Red and Green Lettuce.

4. Tomatoes are very high in lycopene, carotenoids and vitamin C and are good on sandwiches as raw snacks and in salads, soups and pasta sauce.

5.   Beans and Peas are much higher in protein than other vegetables.    Whether they are dried (lentils), canned (kidney beans), lightly steamed (soybeans), or eaten raw (peas), beans also contain fibre, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium.   Beans can be added to soups, salads, pasta sauce, chilli or eaten on their own.   The list includes Peas, Lentils, Soya Beans, Lima Beans, Kidney Beans.

6.   Asparagus is a great source of potassium, fibre, vitamins A, C, K, and B complex.     Lightly steam.

7. Allium foods, like garlic and onions, are best known for their natural antibiotic properties and can help boost immunity, reduce inflammation and fight infection.    These foods are healthiest eaten raw in salads but are also great flavouring for many dishes: Leeks, Onions, Shallots, Scallions, Garlic.

8. Sweet potatoes are rich in carotenoids, vitamins A, B6, C, potassium, iron and fibre and are delicious when baked and eaten plain (without butter) or used in soups, casseroles or stir-fries.

9. Peppers are great sources of potassium, manganese, fibre and vitamins A, B, C and K and can be added to salads and healthy stir-fries: Green peppers, Yellow peppers, Orange peppers, Red Peppers.

10. Summer and winter squash are rich in carotenoids, vitamins A and C, potassium, magnesium and fibre.   Squash can be added to casseroles, soups, stir-fries or served alone.

You can enjoy most of the ten listed vegetables in salads or as snacks, lightly steamed as a side or main dish and added to soups or stir-fries.

FOOD SAFETY

Research into food safety attitudes of older people shows they are often reluctant to throw away food and are also confused by food labelling, particularly the difference between ‘Use by’ and ‘Best before’ dates.

Eating food past its ‘Use by’ date increases the risk of food poisoning from listeria, which can be found in a wide range of chilled ready-to-eat foods, including cooked sliced meats, soft cheeses, coleslaw and pates.    The bacteria are destroyed by cooking.

The ‘Use by’ label is a safety guide and mandatory on products that have a short shelf life such as milk, cheese, deli products (e.g. pate and ham) and ready meals.    The label ‘best before ’ is advice on quality and usually appears on fruit and vegetables, as well as tinned goods with a longer shelf-life.    Eggs should not be consumed after the ‘Best before’ date.   Labelling is mandatory under EU law.

Food Safety Tips

• Eat freshly cooked and well-washed fruit and vegetables.

• Highly vulnerable groups should avoid cheeses ripened by mould (such as camembert,      stilton and blue cheese), meat or vegetable pates (tinned pate is okay).

• Be careful with salads and coleslaws.

• Keep cooked and raw food separate.

• When eating out choose a hot freshly cooked meal.

• Make sure you fully cook ready-meals.

• With cooked food, cool as quickly as possible, cover it and put into the fridge.   Eat leftovers within three days – never reheat more than once.   Soups, sauces and gravies should start to boil and stir to reheat evenly.

• Follow label advice on ‘Use by’ and ‘Best before’ date.

• If you open a product before the ‘Use by’ date, e.g. sliced ham, observe the label advice on finishing the food within a certain time frame.

• Keep the fridge temperature at no more than 5 degrees Celsius.  Use a special fridge thermometer

• Unpack and store frozen and chilled foods promptly after shopping.

• Avoid buying food with damaged or torn packaging, bulging or dented cans and dirty or cracked eggs.

FROZEN IS JUST AS GOOD AS FRESH

We often think that when something is fresh it is better for us, but this is not always the case. Frozen vegetables can be at least as good, and in some cases can be better than fresh. This is because nutrient levels start to drop as soon as something is harvested, and the longer fresh fruit and vegetables are stored, the more some nutrients degrade. Frozen food however tends to be frozen within hours of being picked to retain the nutrients. To hit your target of five portions a day, it is perfectly acceptable to mix fresh, frozen and tinned produce.

SEASONING

Season with spices instead of salt.    Too much salt (sodium) can contribute to high blood pressure which can increase the risk of heart disease.    Protect arteries and heart by flavouring meals with pepper, spices and seasoning mixtures.    When choosing seasoning mixtures remember to check the labels to be sure they do not contain garlic salt or other types of salt.  Read the Labels