If you want to lose weight, you need to look at what's on your plate! Research shows that people who eat more vegetables find it easier to lose weight.
However, reports consistently show that the British don't come close to eating enough vegetables. Doctors recommend that adults should consume around 400g of fruit and vegetables each day - that equates to the now famous "five a day". However, if you are keen to maintain optimum health, that should be considered a minimum - experts reckon seven to ten portions should be eaten every day.
How close do we come? Data from the latest National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) shows that just 13% of men and 15% of women in Britain consume five or more portions of fruit and vegetables. The picture for kids is even worse - only 4% of young adults (aged 19-24) ate five or more portions of fruit or vegetables a day.
Why are vegetables so good for you? It's all down to what they do, and don't, contain. Vegetables are packed with antioxidants, fibre and vitamins and minerals, yet they are low in calories, and free of sodium, fat and sugar.
If you are on a budget, vegetables are also highly affordable - much cheaper than the packaged foods many people eat. Whether you choose fresh, frozen, canned or dried, you will find a tremendous variety available year round.
So how much should you eat? A serving size of vegetables or fruit is about the size of a tennis ball, and in a day you should aim to eat two to three servings of fruit, four or five of vegetables.
If you are looking to lose weight, try planning your meal around the vegetables - they should take up about half your plate. When you add in some lean protein and a limited amount of whole grain carbohydrates, you have the recipe for a healthy meal.
One word of caution here, though - when we say vegetables, we are not talking about potatoes. While potatoes are a root vegetable, they don't have the nutritional properties of other vegetables like carrots, broccoli, or spinach, for example, and contain vastly more starch.
Vegetables can be eaten raw or cooked (most of them contain more nutrients when raw) and can be eaten with any meal. Most of us don't tend to like vegetables for breakfast, so eating your fruit at breakfast, and your veggies with lunch and dinner will be more acceptable to most people.
Whether you eat a salad, add some veggies to your sandwich, or include two or three with your dinner, making sure you get at least five a day is a great way to stay healthy and boost your weight loss.