Avocados Linked to Weight Loss

Half an avocado a day helps weight loss and cuts the risk of heard disease and diabetes too, research by Louisiana State University suggests.  Avocados are full of vitamins, minerals and fibre and good fat, making us feel full for longer; regular eaters are one third less likely to be overweight.  The monounsaturated fats help prevent heart disease and also lower blood pressure and inflammation.

Avocado is great on toast instead of butter, or spice it up with a Guacamole or Salsa dip: recipes in our book!

Daily Fresh Fruit cuts Diabetes risk by 12%

Eating fresh fruit can cut our risk of developing diabetes by 12%, astudy by Oxford University has shown.  As consumption of sugar has become an increasing concern, we have become more confused about whether fruit is really that good for us, as it generally contains higher sugar content than vegetables.

The type of sugar in fruit is different to the added sugar we should avoid, so we should not avoid fruit altogether.  Fruit contains healthy fibre and vitamins and eating a moderate amount each day does not raise blood sugar, probably because the glucose and fructose in fruit are metabolised differently from refined sugars found in many processed foods.  Berries, apples, oranges and pears were found to be more beneficial than tropical fruit, bananas and grapes.

Earlier studies had suggested fruit may increase the risk of diabetes, but these studies included fruit juice.  The Food Standards Agency still suggest only one glass of 150ml fruit juice a day, as sugars in juice are released more rapidly into the blood.

World Cancer Research Fund gives further support to 5-a-day...

The World Cancer Research fund has decided to do more to support 5-a-day.  Its latest findings show that a staggering 9 out of 10 older children are missing the five a day target.  Only 8% of 11 to 18 year olds actually eat the recommended 5 portions a day.  Just 29% of adults aged 19 to 64 eat 5 portions compared with 36% of over 65s.  A study recently detailed in our blog, suggested ten portions would give even more health benefit, significantly reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer.  More and more organisations are now  looking to support the 5-a-day campaign, creating recipes specifically focussed on 5-a-day.  We are flattered Jamie Oliver is now regularly creating 5-a-day recipes, and WCRF has now launched 'Real Recipes' at www.wcrf-uk.org/realrecipes to help give us all more inspiration.

Obesity Balloons As More Miss 5-A-Day Target

The NHS has just reported the rate of hospital admissions involving obesity doubled in the last five years, the rate rising by 20% in the last year alone. Women account for about two-thirds of cases.

The review also found that as the trend to fattier diets continues, three quarters of adults are failing to hit the 5-a-day target.  People are more likely to eat less than 3 portions than eat 5 or more.  Those aged 16 to 24 were least likely to eat 5-a-day.  Experts are warning that adult diets are increasingly focussed on high calorie, high salt ready meals.

In February a study by Imperial College argued that we should be eating 10 portions a day for maximum health benefit but official advice will not be updated while so few manage to get anywhere close to 5-a-day.


Larger and more complex brains in humans and primates have been found to have a strong link to diet, particularly to fruit.  Researchers at New York University found that fruit-eating primates have around 25% more brain tissue than other plant-eating species.  They had two explanations: (ii) bigger brains probably evolved from the hunter/gatherer instinct, primates having to recall fruit locations and work out new ways to extract flesh from tough skins and (ii) fruit also have higher energy and nutrients than most plants and hence boost growth.  Full story:


The Power of Spinach

Scientists have been able to turn spinach leaves into working heart tissue, with a technique that could in future help heart attack patients.  It is hoped that if enough tissue can be grown in enough size, the technique could treat many injuries.  Plants and animals transport substances around the body very differently but it is the network of tiny blood vessels or capillaries which are quite similar.  Using spinach, the researchers found a way to recreate tiny networks of blood vessels that branch through human tissue, something that 3D printing has not yet been able to achieve.   Researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute stripped the spinach leaves of their plant cells using a detergent and then injected a blood-like substance into the leaf’s capillaries to culture beating human heart cells. 


We all know of the physical health benefits of eating 5aday.  But now a study has shown that eating fruit and vegetables can improve mental health too.  Interestingly only in women.

The research done at the University of Sydney showed women who ate 5 to 7 portions of fruit and veg a day had a 27% lower risk of stress.  The benefits are thought to come from certain nutrients which increase the production of serotonin and dopamine which help improve mood.  Folate for example is found in dark leafy greens and spinach.

Interestingly the results for men were not significant. Researchers explained this may be due to physiological differences in men and women, although they admitted that the other reason maybe that women were just better at remembering what they had eaten!



Gluten Free Diets Linked to Diabetes

Avoiding gluten can mean we miss out on fibre and nutrients that help protect again diabetes, research has shown.   Avoiding gluten or ingesting only small amounts was found to increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes by as much as 13%.

Harvard University looked at 200,000 patients over 30 years and summarised  ‘Gluten-free foods often have less dietary fibre and other micronutrients [vitamins and minerals]  making them less nutritious and they tend to cost more’.

An estimated 12% follow gluten-free diets in the UK, so if gluten doesn’t agree with you, get at least 5-a-day, every day for plenty of vitamins, minerals and fibre.

Smaller Plates Don't Help You Lose Weight!

It’s often said that one reason people are getting so fat is that plate sizes have increased 50% from 8 to 12 inches since the 1950s.  And smaller plates should encourage us to eat less, right?  Apparently not. 

A review by Cambridge in 2015 found that smaller plates could slash calorie intake by about 10%,  but now aBritish academic Dr Eric Robinson has found that if you give people smaller plates, they just go back for more.  And this study follows research by Channel 4’s programme Food Unwrapped that those using smaller plates at twice as much as those with larger ones.

Our advice: Take a large plate and pile it high with yummy veg, your 5-a-day, every day, and you won’t need to go back for more!

10 Foods that have major impact on Health

Foods to eat more of:

  1. Fruit

  2. Vegetables

  3. Nuts/Seeds

  4. Polyunsaturatedfats (like olive oil)

  5. Wholegrains

  6. Omega 3 fats (seafood)

Foods to eat less of:

  1. Processed Meats

  2. Unprocessed red meats

  3. Sugary sweetened drinks

  4. Salt

Just ten foods have a huge impact on health and disease, and are linked to about HALF of heart, stroke and diabetes deaths, a study by Cambridge University and Tufts University in Boston has shown.


Med Diet significantly cuts risk of fatal breast cancer

Eating a Mediterranean diet of fruit, vegetables, pulses, whole grains, nuts and other good fats such as olive oil, can cut women’s risk of a deadly breast cancer by 40% a study has shown.

The study, carried out by the University of Maastricht in Holland, showed a significant link between a Med diet and oestrogen-receptor negative breast cancer in post-menopausal women.  This type of breast cancer is harder to treat and more likely to be fatal than other types of breast cancer. 55,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer a year and almost one third have this type of cancer.

Healthy Diet is Now Cheaper than Junk

Researchers have found that healthy food is actually cheaper to buy than junk food, dismissing previous studies that suggested junk was more affordable.  The obesity crisis is often blamed on expensive healthy food and relatively cheap junk, but researchers say using economic deprivation as an excuse for obesity is no longer tenable.  The new study 'Chip as Chips: Is a healthy diet affordable?' was recently published by the Institute of Economic Affairs and compared 78 food products from Tesco and Asda .

Evidence shows that obesity has increased alarmingly while incomes have risen and food prices have fallen.  Obesity rates are highest among middle-income earners and are also higher in rich countries than in poor countries.  As people become richer, they do not generally by more fruit and vegetables.

Mr Snowden, the author he report said ' A diet of muesli, rice, white meat, fruit and vegetables is much cheaper than a diet of Coco-Pops, ready meals, red meat, sugary drinks and fast food...A nutritious diet is more affordable than ever'

World Food Innovation Awards

We are really excited to be selected as a finalist in the World Food Innovation Awards 2017 for Best Food Concept.  Our unique and innovative concept of the 5-a-day dish beat off competition entries from over 29 countries.  With more and more research suggesting we should eat at least 5 portions of fruit and veg a day, we’re making it really easy everyone, flexitarians, vegetarians and vegans alike, to hit the daily target with our fresh, natural and tasty food.

Can Juicing Really Make You Fat?

One fruit is squeezed, its sugar becomes ‘free’ and more easily absorbed into your body.  Not only that, but squeezing the juice out of a fruit concentrates the calories, making it easier for us to consume too much, which over time can lead to weight gain.   If you eat a solid piece of fruit on the other hand, sugar is release much more gradually, as the body has to break down the cells in the fruit’s flesh.  While the same is true for vegetables, veggies in general contain much less sugar so the impact is not as great.

A glass of juice or smoothie is a really easy way to get one portion of you 5-a-day, and usually includes plenty of vitamins and other natural healthy substances. But Public Health England advise having juice with a meal to lessen the risk of tooth decay, and a maximum of 150ml per day to help keep sugar consumption to a sensible level.


Research has shown that increasing our intake of fruit and vegetables to 10-a-day can significantly reduce disease and improve health.  The research conducted by Imperial College London was broad, covering 95 different studies and 2 million people.  It found eating 10 portions a day cut the risk of premature death by almost a third.  The authors estimate that eating 5-a-day could prevent 32,000 premature deaths, while eating 10-a-day could prevent 53,000.  10-a-day would cut the risk of cancer by 13% and heart disease by 24%, they claim. 7,200 deaths from cancer and almost 14,000 deaths from strokes a year could be prevented.  Compelling statistics.

But let’s be realistic.  The UK government has not changed its solid 5-a-day advice in years, and nor is it likely to, when 1 in 3 of us still struggle to get anywhere close to the target.  But the message is clear, the more the better, and we have to do better, particularly when it comes to vegetables and variety!

Flexitarian Fashion

More and more of us are becoming ‘flexitarian’ – eating meat only occasionally.  Many of us are trying to cut down on meat, but without going completely meat-free to become vegetarian or vegan.  The change in eating habits in the UK is quite striking - almost half of us are ditching meat at least twice a week in an attempt to eat more healthily, and the proportion of meat-free evening meals at the end of last year was up to 35.3%.  The fashion for Flexitarianism is being driven by the younger generation, those aged 15-34, and by women- who are still the primary grocery shoppers.

Not Enough Veg?

Supermarkets have started to ration vegetables as apparently we are running short !  During the winter months we rely on Spain for most of our vegetables, but very poor weather has severely limited supplies.  Courgettes were first affected, but now iceberg lettuces, aubergine and tomatoes are running short.  The shortage may last until April.

But there are still many ways to get your 5-a-day.  During the winter months British farmers produce plenty of vegetables including Brussel Sprouts, Cauliflower, Beetroot, Swede, Red cabbage - to mention a few.  And then of course there are plenty of frozen veg options: peas, beans, edamame and sweetcorn all freeze well and are always available.

So whatever the weather, we've always got ideas to help you get your 5. Check out some of our tasty warming curries on our recipe page, or a few below:

Our Bengali Tadkari http://www.thriveonfive.co.uk/curries-index#/new-gallery-2/ or our Chipotle Chilli http://www.thriveonfive.co.uk/5-spicy#/smoky-chipotle-chilli/ or our 15 minute Chickpea Curry http://www.thriveonfive.co.uk/5-spicy#/quick-chickpea-mushroom-spinach/