Category Archives: 5-a-day

But aren’t they natural sugars?

Mince pies? Christmas cake? Christmas pudding? Tis the season to be jolly – and of dried fruits!

And fruit is healthy, right?

So if you find some of these lovely seasonal foods with no added sugar, it necessarily follows they are, if not actually good for you, OK at least doesn’t it?

Sadly it doesn’t necessarily follow.

There is ongoing debate about fructose – the sugar naturally occurring in fruit.  We know now that fructose is processed differently in the body compared with other sugars. Almost ALL the fructose we eat ends up being stored directly as body fat. Belly fat. The kind that settles in and around the internal organs. Visceral fat. Linked with type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, heart disease, strokes etc.

If you want the scientific explanation – here it is.

The issue with these Christmas delicacies, is that, even without added sugars, they contain whopping amounts of fructose because it’s so concentrated in dried fruits compared to fresh fruits. One small portion of Christmas pudding might deliver 50 or more grams of sugar. Add to that the sugar in a mince pie or two, a piece of Christmas cake at tea time, nibbling on the occasional seasonal date, and you might be racking up a considerable amount of sugar – just from naturally occurring fructose found in dried fruits.

All things in moderation, so they say. When it comes to Christmas fayre the crux is knowing how little actually constitutes moderation.

I wish you the happiest festive season, but most of all good health!

Elaine x




Your starter for 10-a-day!

Grill VegetableTwo simple questions for you this week:

  • How long would you like to live?
  • How healthy would you like to be as time goes by?

The latest research about the number of portions of vegetables and fruit we should be eating every day gives us this choice, as the good doctor advises in this video.

We benefit from eating good quality plant foods: fruit and vegetables.  We get reasonable benefits from eating 5 portions each day.  We get better benefits if we up that (as the Aussies already recommend) to 7-a-day.  We get even better benefits if we up it to 10-a-day.

Great!  It should be a simple choice shouldn’t it?

So why are some journalists grumbling about the new findings?  I simply don’t get it.  If you don’t want to eat 7 or 10-a-day that’s your choice.  But why do you feel it’s a good use of print space to inhibit good practice and encourage readers to stick to just 5-a-day?

I get that some people already don’t even manage 5-a-day.  I do.  And I want them to be encouraged to get up to the 5-a-day too. That may or may not mean subsidising the cost of fresh produce, but taxation is a separate argument.

The issue today is about those people who do care enough to want to make more effort to look after themselves and go on to enjoy a long and healthy life filled with the energy and vitality to make the most of those extra years.  Telegraph – you have done those readers a great disservice.  I note the date on the article entitled “10 portions of fruit and veg a day – are they having a laugh?”   I seriously hope this is the Telegraph’s idea of an April Fool’s joke?

The idea that we can’t pack in 10-a-day is simply ludicrous!  So here goes: This is your starter for 10!!


Eggs, served with tomatoes, mushrooms, baked beans (choose a good brand without sugar – yes they are out there!!)

Mid-morning snack:

How about an apple with a handful of almonds or walnuts?


Vegetable soup or a home-made vegetable juice – can’t begin to tell you how many portions you would squeeze in there!

Followed by a salad with your choice of protein (fish, chicken, meat, tofu)

Mid afternoon snack:

Vegetable crudites with half a tub of hummus (better still if that’s homemade too!)

Evening meal:

Chilli con (or sin) carne made with tomatoes, peppers, onions, possibly some aubergine – served with guacamole and fresh tomato salsa, with rice or better still quinoa


Guess what?  You’ve had more than 10-a-day easily, and you haven’t been a slave in the kitchen because none of these things are difficult or take hours to make.  Do it all in batches one day each week and you’re really laughing!