Consumer: The weighty issue of getting the right veg

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While we all need to get our five a day, if you are watching your weight there is some fruit and veg experts say you might want to avoid.

“Although it would be difficult to get fat on a vegetable based diet, if you’re looking to burn body fat, not all vegetables are as beneficial as others, meaning that they also have a higher calorie count,” said Chris Hall, founder of Hall Training Systems.

There are some fruits and vegetables, he said, that may also lead to weight gain, so may be best avoided if you’re aiming to lose a few pounds.

So, what are the worst waistline culprits hiding in your veg box or fruit bowl?

Beans and legumes contain a lot of protein and have a high-nutrient density, one cup of lentils has 227 calories, compared to broccoli with just 31.

“If you are on a limited calorie diet, you would need to watch your intake of these vegetables,” advises Hall.

According to Emma Rose, Fresh Fitness Food’s nutritional expert, sweetcorn can leave you feeling hungry. This starchy vegetable has a high glycaemic index which raises your blood sugar levels, resulting in a drop in glucose levels after only a few hours, leaving you feeling hungry quicker.

The much loved potato can be one of the worst vegetables for anyone wanting to lose weight according to Elouise Bauskis, a nutritionist at NutriCentre. Very high in starch and carbohydrates, excessive consumption could contribute to weight gain over time, especially as potatoes tend to be something we eat in big portions. A nutritious alternative, Bauskis advises, would be low-calorie broccoli, which contains more vitamin C or even sweet potatoes, which have a lower glycaemic load (GL).

Dried fruit can be a great way to liven up porridge, yoghurt or salads but it is generally far more calorie-dense than fresh fruit. Keep the portions small if you’re watching your weight. Generally fruits such as passion fruit, that taste sweeter are higher in sugars which can lead to a drop in glucose levels and leave you feeling hungry quicker than fruit or veg with a higher glycaemic load.

Avoiding these foods doesn’t mean you have to go without however, there are plenty of alternatives to fill the space on your plate.

Cauliflower, broccoli and kale are all low-starch, super nutritious foods which can leave you feeling fuller for longer while also helping to regulate blood sugar levels.

“If you’re trying to increase your vegetable intake at the same time as losing body fat, try choosing vegetables with high levels of dietary fibre,” said Hall.

“These foods will make you feel full without bumping up your calorie intake too much,” he explained.

IDENTIFYING THE SUPERFOODS

Cooked carrots contain contain nearly 4g of soluble fibre per cup.

Strawberries, raspberries and blueberries can leave you feeling fuller for longer and are packed with antioxidants to boost your intake of vitamins. This should keep you from reaching for unhealthy 
snacks.

Grapefruit is a superfruit which can help speed up your metabolism, which means you burn calories faster.

One pear packs 15% of your recommended daily fibre allowance

Looking out towards Arkengarthdale in the Yorkshire Dales. PIC: Simon Hulme

Fighting for the future of communities in the Yorkshire Dales