Posts Tagged ‘vitamins and minerals’

Fibre in your Diet

Monday, February 14th, 2011

Fibre is found in foods which originate from plants, such as cereals, grains, seeds, pulses, fruit and vegetables. To increase the amount of fibre you eat, you need to have more of these types of food as part of your diet.

There are two types of fibre: soluble and insoluble.  Most foods contain a mixture of both.

It is a good idea to try to eat more fibre because most people in Ireland don’t have enough fibre in their diets. Insoluble fibre helps prevent constipation, and soluble fibre may help to reduce the amount of cholesterol in the blood.

Wholegrain varieties of starchy foods, such as wholemeal bread, wholegrain breakfast cereals, brown rice and wholegrain pasta, are particularly good sources of insoluble fibre.

Brussels sprouts, potatoes, cabbage, and carrots are all good sources of fibre, and so are beans and pulses, such as red kidney beans, baked beans, broad beans, butter beans, green beans, chickpeas, green lentils and black-eyed beans. Dried fruit – such as figs, apricots, prunes and dates – are also a good choice. Or try eating pears, apples, cranberries, avocados, pomegranates and blackberries.

When you have plenty of fibre in your diet, you need to make sure that you drink plenty of fluids – at least six to eight glasses a day. It is especially important to have plenty of water if you are constipated because fluids will help to keep things moving! If you get constipated a lot, talk to your GP.

Italian-style beef stew

Monday, October 4th, 2010

An easy, super healthy stew full of vitamin C.


  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 300g pack beef stir fry strips, or use beef steak, thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • Sprig rosemary, chopped
  • Handful pitted olives

 Preparation and cooking times

 Prep 10 mins                                       Cook 20 mins


1.     In a large saucepan, cook onion and garlic in olive oil for 5 mins until softened and turning golden.  

2.     Tip in the beef strips, pepper, tomatoes and rosemary, then bring to the boil.  

3.     Simmer for 15 mins until the meat is cooked through, adding some boiling water if needed. Stir through the olives and serve with mash.

Make it vegetarian – Leave out the beef and cook 1 chopped aubergine and 1 chopped courgette along with the pepper. Finish by sprinkling over some feta cheese.

Per serving:    225 kcals, Protein – 25g, Carbohydrate – 7g, Fat – 11 g, Saturated fat – 3g, Fibre – 2g, Sugar – 6g, Salt – 0.87 g

Supplements …. Too much of a good thing?

Monday, September 20th, 2010

In Ireland, one in four of us is taking a nutritional supplement (Food Safety Authority of Ireland, 2008), often to make up for what we feel is a lack in our normal diet, or because we feel generally run down, or to help fight off colds in the winter. But can they really make a difference?

Vitamins, minerals and trace elements are needed for your body to work properly. However, that does not mean that taking a supplement is necessarily going to be beneficial.

There is a variety of reasons why taking supplements is not as effective as you have been lead to believe, these include the following:

  • Intakes of vitamins and minerals can be taken in much larger amounts in pill form than would ever be managed from food alone, potentially leading to an ‘over-dose’ of a particular vitamin or mineral.
  • In general supplements do not work as well as nutrients obtained from food as they are not as biologically active; that means the body cannot use them as efficiently.

So as much as certain companies would like you to believe the bottom line is….
If you have a balanced diet, for most of us it shouldn’t be necessary to have vitamin and mineral supplements.

However if you really want to take a supplement keep to a one-a-day vitamin and mineral that provides no more than the daily recommended amounts and avoid taking supplements of single vitamins or minerals.

There are as ever some exceptions where due to pregnancy, certain medical conditions, gut surgery or restricted diets that a supplement will be recommended.

Healthy Eating for Sport

Monday, August 9th, 2010

Eating a healthy balanced diet will provide you with all the nutrients you need to take part in your favourite sport or activity.

This means eating a wide variety of foods, see below for how to get the balance right.

If you take part in a sport regularly, perhaps you’re a member of a club or team, or a regular at your local gym, then the best way to get the most out of your sport is to:

  • drink plenty of fluids
  • eat plenty of fruit and vegetables
  • eat plenty of starchy foods (carbohydrate) to keep you going during exercise such as rice, bread, pasta (try to choose wholegrain varieties when you can) and potatoes.
  • eat some protein-rich foods such as meat, fish, eggs and pulses
  • have some milk and dairy foods
  • just eat a small amount of foods high in fat, salt and sugar
  • eat enough food for your level of activity. If you eat too little then you won’t be able to keep up your exercise levels

It is important to eat a variety of these foods to make sure we get all the nutrients our bodies need.

Timing of meals around workouts is just as important as what you eat if you want to keep your energy levels up. For the first two hours after exercise, muscles can refuel their glycogen stores twice as fast as normal so it’s important to eat carbohydrate-containing foods as soon as possible after a workout or exercise session.

See my next blog for more on starchy foods for exercise.

Why Eat More Fruit and Vegetables?

Monday, June 14th, 2010

Eating a variety of fruit and vegetables will give you plenty of vitamins and mi5adaynerals. For example, many are naturally high in folic acid, vitamin C and potassium. Fruit and vegetables are also a good source of fibre and other substances, such as antioxidants. All these nutrients are important for your health. Fruit and vegetables are generally low fat and low calorie foods. So eating fruit and vegetables instead of foods that are high in fat and added sugars may help you achieve or keep to a healthy weight.


Fruit and vegetables can help protect you from diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Try to have at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day. In fact, the more you eat the better! Fresh, frozen, chilled, canned in juice (not syrup), 100% fruit juice, and dried fruit and vegetables all count.


f&vCheck the table below to find out what counts as one portion. How many do you eat a day?


If you are not yet eating 5 a day, then build up to this amount (or more!).


Try to choose 5 different fruits and vegetables.


But what is a portion?

ONE portion = 80g = any of these
1 apple, banana, pear, orange or other similar sized fruit
2 plums or similar sized fruit
½ a grapefruit or avocado
1 slice of large fruit, such as melon or pineapple
3 heaped tablespoons of vegetables (raw, cooked, frozen or tinned)
3 heaped tablespoons of beans and pulses (however much you eat, beans and pulses count as a maximum of one portion a day)
3 heaped tablespoons of fruit salad (fresh or tinned in fruit juice) or stewed fruit
1 heaped tablespoon of dried fruit (such as raisins and apricots)
1 handful of grapes, cherries or berries
a dessert bowl of salad
a glass (150ml) of fruit juice (however much you drink, fruit juice counts as a maximum of one portion a day)

Tips: a day’s worth might be: a banana and a glass of fruit juice with breakfast, salad and an apple with lunch, and carrots with your dinner.