Maritzburg Sun (South Africa)

Why South Africa needs to eat more fruit and veggies

- Jade le Roux

While Covid-19 may be foremost on our minds, many South Africans are battling other diseases including hypertensi­on and Type 2 diabetes, which make us more vulnerable to the coronaviru­s.

The National Department of Health (NDoH) points out that increasing access to fresh vegetables and fruits, and including at least five portions of these in our diet every day can impact on overall health, as well as mitigate the risks of serious diet-related illnesses.

Research shows that many South Africans eat far less vegetables and fruits than we need to maintain our health. Rising obesity and persistent under-nutrition are prevalent in many of our communitie­s.

For the President of ADSA (Associatio­n for Dietetics in South Africa), Maria van der Merwe, eating more vegetables and fruits every day, as well as more variety, is simply fundamenta­l to healthy diets. “Due to Covid-19, there’s a lot of focus on supporting immune systems, and eating a variety of veg and fruit is essential to achieve this. Some South Africans are shifting towards a more plantbased diet, which has become a worldwide healthy eating trend. But we also need a co-ordinated effort to help many South African families access an affordable variety of fresh produce. Diets rich in vegetables and fruits support the immune system and protect against diseases while enabling our bodies to fight back better from infections and reduce the risks of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers,” said van der Merwe.

Carol Browne of the Nutrition Society of South Africa (NSSA) recommends following four principles when it comes to meeting the recommende­d minimum of five portions of vegetables and fruit each day:

Always include vegetables in meals – When planning and preparing meals, make it a priority to include different vegetables. Whether you are cooking a stirfry, pasta, or an egg dish, vegetables will only enhance it in every way.

Eat raw vegetables and fresh fruit – Getting into the routine of snacking on fruits and veg is a healthy eating habit we can model for our children.

Eat fresh vegetables and fruit that are in season – Seasonal produce is more affordable and by focusing on eating winter veg and fruits in winter and summer veg and fruits in summer, you can access more fruit and veg every day.

Eat a variety of vegetables and fruits – Different veg and fruit offer different health-boosting micronutri­ents, and that’s why eating a variety helps you get good overall nutrition.

Tips to include more vegetables and fruit every day on a budget include:

Growing your own – Even if you have limited garden space, you can still grow in containers, on balconies or verandas.

Get together with neighbours, family and friends to buy seasonal veg and fruit in bulk.

Look out for supermarke­t specials on frozen or canned produce.

To prevent produce spoiling which wastes money, buy vegetables and fruit that stay fresh for longer, such as butternut, carrots, cabbage, beetroot, onions, apples and oranges.

Save money and improve your health by reducing your intake of ultra-processed and takeaway foods, as well as sugary beverages and unhealthy snacks.

Inspired by nature, especially the South African and Scandinavi­an landscapes, artist and illustrato­r Kim Reed has created a market for her quirky and colourful watercolou­r prints and designs.

Drawing on her love for illustrati­on and design, Reed has turned her works into a number of creative and innovative products, bridging the gap between functional­ity and art.

“When creating, I enjoy thinking of how my artwork may make someone smile or feel special, especially if they are given it as a gift,” she said.

Although she had been drawn to art and been interested in it her whole life, she started to pursue her creative side more seriously in 2018. “That was when I realised it has been something I’ve consistent­ly navigated towards and been drawn to throughout my life. I love the sense of calm and achievemen­t creating brings. At first I just did it as a way to relax, but then I felt a very strong pull towards it that just got stronger.”

The self-taught artist started posting her artwork on Instagram and grew from the vulnerabil­ity of putting herself out there. She has since started a business where she turns her art and designs into a number of useful products, such as notepads, cards, stationary, stickers, calendars, recipe cards, and even educationa­l material and aids for teachers and learners.

While watercolou­r is her preferred medium, she also dabbles in gouache, black ink and graphite. She enjoys drawing and painting nature and everyday objects, and is inspired by life around her.

Her illustrati­ons have been featured in a recent book, Feeding Ayanda’s Village, by local author Michelle Wessels, reflecting on the work of Action in Isolation during the hard lockdown in 2020. She has also worked with the Ellenbird Cafe on redesignin­g their menu.

Reed does commission­s and you are welcome to contact her if you would like to request a specific design. She does illustrati­ons as well as graphic design. Follow Reed on Instagram and Facebook: @kimreedill­ustration

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