Wednesday 28 February 2024

Can you eat thirty different plants in a week?

It's actually not as difficult as it sounds!

Sometime before Christmas I read a nutrition article online that made an impression on me. I think it may have been this one - Forget five a day, 30 a week is the new rule you need to follow. It's behind a paywall, but if you don't have a Telegraph subscription you can find a similar article here with lots more advice - Why should you eat 30 plants a week?

The premise behind eating 30 different types of plant in a week is that it can boost the diversity and health of your gut biome, which is also really important for other aspects of your health. When I read the headline I thought that it sounds impossible, I find it difficult enough to fit in my five a day! But after I read more closely I realised that actually it's very achievable. 

Plants doesn't just include the usual fruit and vegetables, it also counts grains, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices. Even chocolate counts if it's more than 70% cocoa, as does coffee and popcorn. The curry mix that I sometimes use in cooking contains coriander, cumin, turmeric, garlic, cardamom, chilli, star anise, bay leaf, cloves, mace - that's 11 plants in one go!

I've been making a big effort with my diet since the new year, trying to make healthier choices and increasing the range of foods that I eat. So I decided to quickly add up the number of different plants that I ate on a fairly typical day (that does admittedly tend towards the healthier end of the scale) and see how many I got to. I was really surprised!

Simple bean salad in a bowl

Breakfast - Muesli. I eat a small bowl of Sainsbury's Swiss Style Muesli which contains oat flakes, wheat flakes, sultanas, hazelnuts and almonds. Then I top it with a mixture of my own - raisins, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds and some flaked almonds. Adds 9 plants.

Lunch - Bean salad, includes kidney beans, sweetcorn, onion, tomato, red pepper, olive oil. Followed by a handful of grapes. Adds 7 plants.

Snack - A couple each of Brazil nuts, cashew nuts and almonds. Adds 2 plants.

Dinner - Lentil Bolognese, includes red lentils, green lentils, potato, onion, carrot, tomato, olive oil, garlic, curry powder (coriander, cumin, turmeric, garlic, cardamom, chilli, star anise, bay leaf, cloves, mace), black pepper. Adds 15 plants.

Snack - Apple. Adds 1 plant. I also had some chocolate, but it was milk so doesn't count!

Even allowing for overcounting or miscalculation that makes an impressive 34 plants! The curry powder does feel like a bit of a cheat, especially because I don't use very much, so I think that I would need to add it more frequently to get the full benefits.

I could definitely do with some adding some more variety to my diet - I eat the same for breakfast every morning and I often repeat lunches - but I was pleasantly surprised to find that eating so many different plants wasn't as overwhelming as I had thought. I'm definitely in the right mindset at the moment to want to improve my diet, and I'm really enjoying researching the topic and finding some new recipes to try - and feeling better for it too.

1 comment:

  1. My first thought was no but after reading this it does seem achievable. I hadn't thought of things like nuts, seeds and spices. You are right, if you make a curry there are so many herbs and spices in that. That bean salad looks so good. If I just read about it without seeing a picture I would have said no way but it looks really tasty. x


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