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The Healthy Food Guide team believe that making small diet and lifestyle changes brings the best long-term gains. We look at the science behind the headlines and promote a balanced way of eating.

Here’s how to make the most of the abundance of sun-ripened tomatoes, aubergines and broad beans

 

Tomatoes

British tomatoes are in their element now, rich in flavour and nutrients. Experiment with the wonderful variety available

Nutritional reasons to buy
One portion of your five-a-day: 1 tomato or 7 cherry tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed with a carotenoid called lycopene, good intakes of which have been linked to a reduced risk of some cancers and heart disease. Recent research also suggests that higher blood levels of carotenoids may be linked with stronger bones. The absorption of lycopene is improved when tomatoes are cooked or processed (the cell walls are broken down, making it more available), so turning them into a sauce is a great idea. Fat also helps the body to absorb lycopene, so don’t be afraid to drizzle a little olive oil over fresh tomatoes.

Nutritional information per tomato: 12kcal, 2.5g sugars, 0.8g fibre

In the kitchen
BLEND tomatoes with garlic and basil until smooth, then transfer to a saucepan and simmer until reduced by half. Cool, then freeze in portions ready to heat up for a speedy midweek sauce.
ROAST halved tomatoes scattered with finely chopped anchovies to serve with grilled meat or fish.
FINELY CHOP tomatoes, peppers and chilli, then mix with lime zest and juice for a tangy salsa.
tomatoes

Aubergines

This spongy veg is a great vehicle for flavour and can make a nifty low-carb swap for pasta and bread. Just watch how much oil you give it – it’ll drink up the lot!

Nutritional reasons to buy
One portion of your five-a-day: 80g

Aubergine skin is rich in an antioxidant called nasunin, which gives the veg its signature purple hue and helps to protect against cell-damaging free radicals. Aubergines also contain phenolic compounds, in particular chlorogenic acid, another antioxidant that lab tests show may help to lower cholesterol and protect cells from becoming cancerous. There’s no need to salt aubergines – this was traditionally done to remove the bitter juices from the veg, but modern varieties are far more palatable.

Nutritional information per 80g: 12kcal, 1.6g sugars, 2.1g fibre

In the kitchen
ROAST whole aubergines until very soft, then whiz the flesh with garlic, tahini, lemon juice and parsley for a tasty dip.
CUBE and fry in a little oil until soft, adding curry paste to taste and a splash of water when nearly cooked for a spicy side dish.
GRIDDLE slices, then toss with chopped fresh mint, tomatoes, feta and extra-virgin olive oil.
aubergine

Broad beans

These vibrant legumes take a little effort to prepare (the pods are too tough for eating), but it pays dividends in fibre and vitamins.

Nutritional reasons to buy
One portion of your five-a-day: 3 heaped tbsp

Also known as fava beans, broad beans contain a good amount of protein and fibre – just three heaped tablespoons provide 21% of our daily fibre needs, making them great for filling us up. They contain folate and vitamin C, too. Broad beans have been linked to improving the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, as the plant they come from contains levodopa, a drug commonly used to treat the condition. However, research in this area to date is very limited and online advice that recommends eating more broad beans to treat the condition tends to be anecdotal rather than based on scientific studies. Anyone with Parkinson’s who is considering eating more broad beans should first seek medical advice.

Nutritional information per 3 heaped tbsp: 43kcal, 0.8g sugars, 6.5g fibre

In the kitchen
BROAD BEAN DIP, serves 4
Blanch 250g shelled broad beans for 1 min. Blend with 1 garlic clove, 25g toasted flaked almonds, 1tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, juice ½–1 lemon and some ground black pepper until smooth – add a splash of water to loosen, if you like. Serve as a dip with crudités, or spread on toast and top with a fried egg for lunch.
broad-bean

Related article: Seasonal ways to five-a-day in September