- Five servings of different fruit and vegetables daily will ensure you get plenty of vitamins and minerals.
- Foods lose vitamins and minerals when they are cooked, so it’s best to steam or poach fish and vegetables. Grilling or baking meat is better than frying.
- Choose fresh foods over processed and eat as soon as possible.
- If you’re worried about produce going off, tinned fruit and veg still contain vitamins and count towards your five a day.
- Frozen vegetables can contain more vitamins than fresh vegetables that have been stored a long time – just be sure not to overcook them.
- Try not to drink large quantities of tea, coffee or cola-based drinks. Caffeine can prevent your body absorbing vitamins and minerals, such as iron, and it also increases the excretion of the water-soluble vitamins through urine.
- Alcohol is toxic to vitamins so moderate your alcohol intake. This means sticking to government guidelines of 14 units per week for women and 21 units for men.
- Store-bought 100 per cent fruit juices and smoothies are a good way to boost your vitamin C levels, although some have high levels of natural sugars that add unnecessary calories.
- Start the day with a bowl of cereal – these are often fortified with vitamins and minerals. A wholegrain cereal is best.
- Drink fresh fruit juice at breakfast. Foods that contain vitamin C help your body to absorb the iron from your breakfast cereal or toast.
- Try substituting Marmite for marmalade on toast in the morning.
Make your own sandwiches for lunch instead of buying pre-packed. That way, you can make your food work harder by:
- using wholegrain or seeded bread
- limiting or removing fats such as mayonnaise and butter
- choosing lean cuts of meat, or fish such as tuna or salmon
- including salad as part of its filling, for example lettuce plus two of the following: cucumber, tomato, raw pepper, shredded carrot.
You could also make a salad or wrap, or take in a bowl of homemade vegetable soup or stew.
Snack on foods that are good sources of vitamins and minerals:
- a boiled egg will boost levels of iron, A and B vitamins
- unsalted nuts are a good source of calcium, iron, magnesium, selenium and vitamins B and E
- sunflower and sesame seeds contain vitamin E
- dried fruit such as apricots contain vitamin B, iron, magnesium and calcium
- any type of fruit will boost vitamin C levels
- raw vegetables such as pepper and carrot contain betacarotene that can be converted to vitamin A.
- Eat fish as part of your evening meal two or three times a week. Oily fish has the most nutrients – examples are fresh salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, sardines and herring.
- Lean cuts of meat are best, and avoid processed forms such as sausages, pies and burgers.
- Include two vegetables with every meal.
- Substitute potato with brown rice, sweet potato, pulses or lentils. For example serve fish on a bed of green lentils, chicken with brown rice and vegetables, turkey with sweet potato, or lamb in a tomato-based curry with spinach and chickpeas.
- Have one meal each week that’s based around vegetables, for example a stir fry, vegetable casserole or bake.
- Include a salad with your evening meal.
- Choose wholemeal pasta and brown rice.
- Mix chopped nuts with fruit for a dessert, or sprinkle on top of curries and bakes