Raw Fruit and Vegetable Intolerance

Answered By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD

Q: I need to lose about 1 stone but find it difficult as I have an intolerance to raw fruit and most raw vegetables, except for lettuce, red onion and cucumber. I can however, eat cooked fruit and veg. Can you recommend any substitutes that will give me the same nutrients as those provided by raw fruit and veg?

A: You don’t mention who diagnosed you with an intolerance to raw fruit and veg but I suggest that if it wasn’t your GP or a hospital specialist, you get it checked out by a health professional. While many companies offer allergy and intolerance testing, often the methods they employ are not medically proven with the result that customers inappropriately cut out certain foods from their diet. If however your condition has been diagnosed by your GP, you should follow his or her advice.

Including plenty of fruit and veg in your diet can benefit your health in many ways, which is why nutrition experts recommend we all eat five portions a day. The good news is that all fruit and vegetables count towards this, including cooked veg and baked or stewed fruit. Consequently, you shouldn’t have any trouble reaching five a day.

The main nutrients you should be concerned about are the water-soluble B group vitamins and vitamin C, levels of which are reduced by the effects of cooking. Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do to retain these nutrients. Start by cooking vegetables for as short a time as possible. Steaming, microwaving or stir frying are the best methods. As the name suggests, water-soluble vitamins tend to leach into water so choosing a cooking method that doesn’t use water helps prevent this.

If you must boil vegetables, then don’t add any salt and use the water to make stock or sauces – that way you don’t just throw vitamin-enriched water down the sink. It’s also important to keep your vegetables in large chunks to prevent vitamin loss, although by doing this you don’t want to have to cook them for longer.

Finally, it’s an old-fashioned practice but some people still add a pinch of bicarbonate of soda to vegetables to help them keep their colour. This destroys any vitamin C present so don’t do it.

By eating a wide range of foods and looking after the vitamins in those fruit and veg you do eat, it should be easy enough for you to meet your health requirements but to be on the safe side, you might like to consider taking a multivitamin supplement each day.

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