Last week I was listening to a science podcast which was basically an interview with Tim Spector. I think it probably came out in line with the launch of his individualised diet app (which I have to say I can’t wait to try when it becomes available in the UK). He mentioned, as an aside in one of the questions, that the “optimum” number of plants to try and fit into a week’s diet was 30, and he went on to explain that this was not about portions, but about variety and is to do with improving the health of our gut microbiome.
As this is not really what the interview was about there was not a lot of detail. Because of this I’m not sure if things like flour count – although he did say “unprocessed plant food” so I guess probably not. However he did clarify that it includes even small amounts of herbs and spices. After listening I thought it would be interesting to count up the plants in my diet in one week as I thought 30 sounded like rather a lot.
I want to encourage you that in fact 30 is not nearly as hard as one might think. … although maybe easier if you like herby / spicy food as I do, than if you stick to the traditional meat and boiled veg of a 1950’s UK diet. I hope that my list below gives you ideas and inspiration. It is not in any way meant to put you off or look like a gloat!
Below is my list of foods consumed in 4 days. The plants are in bold and if part of a dish are held together in brackets, with the dish name in italics:
- Breakfast – Pain-au-chocolat, Tinned peach, coffee, Pear
- Lunch – Clementine, Celery, Cheese, Pate, (flavoured Houmous containing Lemon, Coriander, Chickpeas, garlic, sesame seeds)
- Dinner – (spiced Butternut curry containing Butternut squash, peas, chilli, ginger, cinnamon, butter, cumin) (Chickpea and tomato curry containing chickpeas, tomatoes, coriander leaf -otherwise known and cilantro, coriander seed, onion, garlic, cumin, ginger) (Raita containing yoghurt, cucumber, mint) (Chicken tikka containing oregano, paprika, turmeric, cardamon, nutmeg, ginger, chilli, cumin, coriander seed, yoghurt) Cauliflower
- Breakfast – toast, cheese, marmalade, tea
- Lunch – carrots, peppers, aubergine sweet potatoes, celery, sage oregano, pork (all as a traybake roast) potatoes tossed in paprika, cauliflower, peas
- Tea – bought pizza bases with home-done toppings – tomato, oregano, olive oil, garlic, olives, peppers, prawns
- Breakfast – Paleo Co granola containing coconut, almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, cashew nuts, almonds, brazil nuts, cocoa powder, hazelnuts, linseeds, chia seeds, cocoa nibs, with milk
- Lunch – Cheese salad containing Lettuce, spinach, tomato, cucumber, peanuts, radishes, drizzled with my absolute favourite … salad cream!
- Dinner – left overs from Saturday and Sunday with added eggs.
- Breakfast – scrambled egg with crispy onion bits and spinach
- Lunch – cheese salad same as Monday
- Dinner – (bean chilli – black beans, onions, tomato puree, garlic, cumin, paprika, peanut butter, cocoa powder), rice, cheese, (salsa – tomatoes, onions, cilantro, mint), smashed avocado with black pepper and lemon juice
What this really made me realise is the value of herbs and spices in our diet. Since doing this a couple of weeks ago I have made sure that even if I am just doing traditional English food I try to add a herb to the vegetable, or a rub to the meat to increase not only the flavour but also the nutritional / gut microbiome value.
I want this post to encourage you to see where you are at with the “30 a week” idea, and see how you can easily add to it if needed.