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Eating more vegetables leads to a lower risk of death

Basket of vegetables

A new University of the City of London (UCL) study has found that vegetables have significantly higher health benefits than fruit.

Researchers found that the more vegetables and fruit the participants ate, the less likely they were to die at any age. Eating seven or more portions of vegetables and fruit a day reduced risk of death at any point in time, by 42% compared to eating less than one portion a day.

The study found that fresh vegetables had the strongest protective effect, with each daily portion reducing overall risk of death by 16%. Salad contributed to a 13% risk reduction per portion, and each portion of fresh fruit was associated with a smaller 4% reduction.

This is the first study to link vegetable and fruit consumption with all-cause, cancer and heart disease deaths in a nationally-representative population, the first to quantify health benefits per portion, and the first to identify the individual benefits of fruit and vegetables.

“We all know that eating fruit and vegetables is healthy, but the size of the effect is staggering,” said Dr Oyinlola Oyebode of UCL, lead author of the study. “The clear message here is that the more fruit and vegetables you eat, the less likely you are to die at any age. Vegetables have a larger effect than fruit, but fruit still makes a real difference. If you’re happy to snack on carrots or other vegetables, then that is a great choice, but if you fancy something sweeter, a banana or any fruit will also do you good. However, people shouldn’t feel daunted by a big target like seven. Whatever your starting point, it is always worth eating more fruit and vegetables. In our study even those eating one to three portions had a significantly lower risk than those eating less than one.”

Between 2001 and 2013, the researchers studied the eating habits of 65,226 people representative of the English population. They worked out what effect fruit and vegetable intake had on the respondents’ risk of death. They found that people who ate at least seven portions a day had a 42% lower risk of death from all causes. This group also had a 31% lower risk of death caused by heart disease and stroke, and a 25% lower risk of death from cancer.

Photo: Foodfolio/Alamy

Budding secondary school chefs

Get ready for the 2014 National Secondary School Culinary Challenge coming to your area soon.

This competition is sponsored by City & Guilds with co-sponsors, Poultry Industry Association NZ, Southern Hospitality, Vegetables.co.nz, Potatoes New Zealand, 5+ A Day, Bidvest and Moffat.

In this secondary school challenge, teams of two competitors prepare, cook and present an entrée featuring leeks, and a main course with potatoes and two fresh New Zealand grown vegetables, all within 90 minutes.

For each region, the winning school will receive a $500 Bidvest voucher to help train for the national final, a fabulous gift pack for each student with a chefs jacket for the final, 20 Dudson classic flat plates for Hospitality competitions and travel assistance to get to Auckland.

The 2014 Regional competition dates are:

  • Southern Lights (Timaru) – Southern Lights – Aoraki Polytechnic – 10th May
  • Hawkes Bay – NZ Chefs Hawkes Bay Salon – EIT – 18th May
  • Northland – NZ Chefs Northland Salon – Northtec – 8th June
  • Taranaki – NZ Chefs Taranaki/Wanganui Salon – WITT – 16th June
  • Wellington – City & Guilds Regional Event – Weltec – 20th June
  • Waikato – Waikato Culinary Fare – Wintec – 26/27th June
  • Auckland – MIT Secondary Schools Competition – MIT – 2nd July
  • Bay of Plenty – BOP Polytechnic or Waiariki [TBC] – date TBC
  • Nelson Marlborough – date and venue TBC
  • Canterbury – date and venue TBC

The winning regional team will represent their region at the National Final, MIT, Auckland on Friday 12th September 2014.

The 2014 National Secondary School Culinary Challenge prize package includes:
·         a $2,000 scholarship towards their study of a City & Guilds International Catering Qualification in a City & Guilds approved Training Centre of their choice;
·         iPad mini each.
Winners’ school:
·         a $1,000 Voucher from Bidvest
·         an E32D4 Blue Seal Turbofan oven and stand from Moffat New Zealand valued at $7,000

How to make half your plate vegetables

Remember the message, have ½ plate of vegetables on the dinner plate plus some potato or kumara and some protein such as lamb, chicken, beef or pork.

Enjoy the great fresh New Zealand grown vegetables available at this time of the year: brassicas such as cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli; or root vegetables like parsnip, beetroot and carrots. Add some Asian greens such as bok choy, tat soi or Chinese sprouting broccoli or kale. Asian vegetables are great chopped and steamed and served drizzled with a little sesame oil.

Make an autumn salad with baby spinach, grated beetroot and carrot, sprouted beans, finely sliced red onions and a vinaigrette.

Remember as the cooler weather arrives vegetables are great added to stews and braises; consider celery, pumpkin, parsnip, swede or turnip, as well as the ever popular carrot.

Look through the great selection of recipes available on this website for some delicious meal ideas.

‘Hard’ and ‘soft’ herbs

Herbs can be classified as ‘hard’ and soft’.

‘Hard’ herbs often grow through the winter and have woody stems. They include bay, rosemary and sage. These herbs are hardier and  keep their flavour throughout prolonged cooking. They are the herbs that are added at the beginning of cooking.

‘Soft’ herbs such as basil, coriander, thyme, tarragon, dill, marjoram and parsley are added at the end of cooking to finish off the dish.

Choose clean, crisp leaves and refrigerate in the original packaging or place in plastic bags in the crisper. Make sure leaves are not squashed. Alternatively, if the herbs still have their roots attached, place the roots in a jar of water and leave in a cool place, but do not refrigerate.

For more information about specific herbs and their availability, visit the Select a vegetable page on herbs.

Kiwis’ vegetable and fruit habits revealed

A new 5+ a day survey has shed some light on how Kiwis enjoy vegetables and fruit.

The survey found 36% of New Zealanders eat the recommended daily 5+ servings of fresh fruit and vegetables a day, with dinner being the meal where the most fresh produce is eaten.

65% of all Kiwis have 2-3 different types of vegetables at dinner, with residents of the upper North Island (excluding Auckland) topping the variety stakes.

36% of those in the Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Northland eat the widest variety of vegetables including 4+ different types of vegetables on their dinner plate, while 15% enjoy 5+ different types.

However, Aucklanders are behind in the amount of vegetable variety they eat and they are slightly less likely than other Kiwis to eat their greens, with only 32% doing so.

36% of lower North Island residents, including those from Wellington, Wairarapa, Taranaki and Hawke’s Bay, eat the recommended daily 5+ servings of fresh fruit and vegetables. Figures show this is slightly higher than other areas of New Zealand.

South Islanders are kitchen masters when it comes to slicing and dicing fresh produce, with 57% saying they are very confident when it comes to preparing fruit and vegetables, while only 7% lack confidence.

51% of the overall population say they are very confident when preparing fresh produce, but only 45% of Aucklanders report being very confident and 12% are quite unsure or very unsure.

41% of women eat 5+ servings of fresh produce a day, while only 27% of men do the same.

When a snack attack hits, 78% of Kiwis pick fruit and vegetables to nibble on.

For more information on the Take the 5+ a day Challenge visit this page.

Celebrate Chinese New Year with some Asian inspired vegetable dishes

Chinese New Year is considered a major holiday for the Chinese and is celebrated on the first day of the Chinese calendar – January 31st in 2014 – the celebrations traditionally run from Chinese New Year’s Eve, the last day of the last month of the Chinese calendar – in 2014, January 30th – to the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first month, making the festival the longest in the Chinese calendar.

The source of Chinese New Year is itself centuries old and gains significance because of several myths and traditions. Traditionally, the festival was a time to honour deities as well as ancestors. Chinese New Year is celebrated in countries and territories with significant Chinese populations, as well as by Chinese populations anywhere. In China, it is also known as the Spring Festival, the literal translation of the modern Chinese name.

Source Wikipaedia

For recipes featuring Asian vegetables use the Meal Idea Search box on the website.

For more information about Asian vegetables, visit this page.

The benefits of beetroot juice

Can beetroot juice improve both your sports performance and your general health?

Beetroot juice has featured in the news over this past year promoting benefits which could have applications to both sports performance and general health.

The active ingredient in beetroot that is the new ‘super-compound’ is inorganic nitrate (NO3). Beetroot is particularly rich in nitrates, however, other vegetables, such as celery, lettuce, rocket and spinach (which all have a nitrate content of around 2500mg/kg), leeks, Chinese cabbage, kohlrabi and parsley (1000-2500g/ kg), and cabbage and carrot juice (500- 1000mg/kg); are also good sources.

Athletes have been the first group to realise the performance-enhancing benefits of nitrates from beetroot. Recent evidence shows that when athletes take either a single dose of beetroot juice prior to exercise, or drink it over 3-15 days, they experience an enhancement in capacity by experiencing a reduction in the oxygen cost of exercise.

Sports that would benefit from this type of supplementation are cycling and running events that last from 4-30 minutes in duration. .

The general population is also benefiting from this new evidence with a connection made between beetroot juice consumption and the reduction of hytertension. More research is needed on the exciting new benefits of this well known vegetable.

Caryn Zinn PhD. NZ registered Dietitian; AUT Senior Lecturer.  Source: Nutrition Foundation Dec 2013 Newsletter

Go to the home page of vegetables.co.nz to look for recipes that feature beetroot – the beetroot and carrot juice recipe shown above can be found here, and find out more about beetroot on the Beetroot select a vegetable page.

What vegetables do you barbecue?

Recent Australian research shows lettuce is the most popular vegetable eaten at a barbecue so try something different this summer and grill it.

A wide range of vegetables are capable of being eaten at the traditional family barbecue, either in salads, cooked on the barbecue, or as part of a tasty and colourful vegetable kebab for the grill.

Over 500 Australians were recently surveyed in a study which showed that the following vegetables were used at barbecues: lettuce 29%, cucumbers 22%, capsicums 20%, sweetcorn 17%, courgettes 11%, cabbage 11%, celery 10%, baby spinach 10%.

The research was funded by the Australian National Vegetable Levy and matched funds from the Australian Government.

The full story can be read at http://ausveg.com.au/media-release/research-reveals-most-popular-veggie-bbq-hits

Let’s teach kids about eating fresh vegetables

The University of Chicago Center for Mathematics and Science Education has evaluated a school programme called ‘Delicious, Nutritious Adventures’ (DNA).
The programme runs in 30 Chicago schools and teaches more than 5,000 children a year about healthy eating. It provides interactive and fun nutrition education classes and focusses on eating what is good for the body and the planet.
The Study indicates that the programme helps kids:

  • Become interested in trying new foods.   
  • Believe healthy foods taste great.
  • Understand the importance of healthy eating.     
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables – 77% of parents said they agree or somewhat agree that their kids eat more vegetables, and 81% agree or somewhat agree that their kids eat more fruit after attending the programme.     

Let’s teach Kiwi kids more about eating fresh New Zealand grown vegetables.

Visit the Resources section on the website for leaflets about increasing the amount of vegetables in Kiwi meals.

The Heart Foundation launches new Food Guide

Heart Foundation visual

The Heart Foundation has launched its new visual food guide. 

This has been a two-and-a-half year project to develop a replacement for the old Heart Foundation food pyramid (withdrawn in 2005). The pre-testing with the general public found the new Food Guide to be an engaging, positive and supportive tool that felt friendly and do-able.

So what’s different from the old food pyramid?

  • The pyramid has been turned on its head, putting the best at the top.  Vegetables and fruit take up the biggest proportion of the ‘Healthy Heart’ to show we should ‘eat most’ of them.
  • It includes a health oils and nuts food group, as these are important for heart health.
  • Starchy vegetables are included with other starchy foods like breads, cereals and grains.
  • Instead of being a pyramid, it is in a heart shape to show its focus on eating for a healthy heart.
  • It focuses on proportional volume of foods rather than number of servings. This was in direct response to the baseline research where people strongly indicated that they didn’t want numbers or too much detail.

Information on the ‘Healthy Heart’ can be accessed here:

There are four main ‘Healthy Heart’ tools available:

  • Posters in A1, A3 and A4 size.  These can be ordered or downloaded here.
  • Tear off pad with a basic version of the guide and simple tips to get started on the back.
  • Background guide for health professionals.
  • A web app for consumers with a meal planner that shows how the selected dishes fill up the ‘Healthy Heart’, available here.

The ‘Healthy Heart’ was developed by a team from Te Hotu Manawa Māori, Pacific Heartbeat, the Health Promotion Agency, Paradigm Associates, and the Heart Foundation.

If you’d like to find out more about the research that went into the development of the ‘Healthy Heart’, brief summaries are available at the bottom of this link.

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