Celebrity Health - Kate Quilton

TV presenter Kate Quilton talks to Liz Parry about her favourite superfoods and shares her top dietary tips for healthy living

TV presenter and journalist Kate Quilton has presented a number of Channel 4 television series, including Food Unwrapped and Superfoods: The Real Story. The 34-year-old is currently expecting her first child with actor husband James Lance.

Having a healthy diet is incredibly important to me. Yes, I’ve made lots of programmes about it and learnt a lot along the way, but I’ve seen first-hand what an unhealthy diet can do. I lost my beautiful dad three years ago and he had a very, very bad diet. After one particular operation, his surgeon told me that my dad had probably been malnourished for 20 years or more. In this time of plenty that we live in, many think that malnourishment is a thing of the past but, in fact, it’s a very real and present thing. And if you don’t eat a healthy diet, the consequences on your health can be devastating.

I think education is getting better, but we’ve got a very, very long way to go. And bad habits die hard. If a person’s diet and lifestyle is having a negative effect on their health, it’s not easy to change the eating habits of a lifetime overnight.

During the filming of Superfoods: The Real Story we’ve covered so many brilliant stories about particular foods that can have a positive impact on your health. For instance, the humble broccoli. It contains a cancer-busting compound called glucoraphanin. We met a guy in the UK who put his survival from prostate cancer down to his daily consumption of broccoli after all other treatments failed – his NHS oncologist agreed. But, it’s important to mention that we also saw patients where it didn’t work at all.

Another example is prunes. We’ve all heard that prunes are particularly good for helping a certain ailment, but they also have another string to their bow. The scientific evidence for prunes helping to prevent – and even reverse – osteoporosis in women is so substantive in America that they can print it on pack. Just five prunes a day can help prevent osteoporosis – incredible! When we covered the story, I immediately rang my mum from the States and told her to start eating five prunes a day. She’s still eating them, to this day.

The stories I particularly love are the ones where we find out that something you’re very likely already eating has some surprising health benefits. We’ve all heard that green tea is good for you; it’s high in a catechin called EGCG which can help prevent heart disease. But, the good news is, your bog-standard builder’s tea also contains EGCG. Admittedly in smaller amounts, but they are still present. So much so that in 2015, even the Dutch Health Council began advising people to drink three to four cups of black tea every day for this very reason.

I eat lots of the superfoods we’ve featured in the series: broccoli, prunes, oats, olive oil, kippers, watercress, black pepper, turmeric, green tea, kefir. The list goes on…

During a typical day, oats or eggs are my staple for breakfast. If I have eggs, I always try to have lots of veg on the side – tomatoes, avocado, leaves – anything that I have in the fridge. If I’m going for oats, my favourite porridge at the moment is to add a teaspoon of turmeric and half a banana. The bright yellow colour might put some people off but it’s tasty! Especially if you top it with more tropical flavours like mango and coconut.

Lunch is usually always eaten on the road. We can be filming anywhere so you often have to make the best choices you possibly can when there may not be a great deal on offer. Filming every day means you get to know the M&S range at service stations intimately. I usually go for a salad and some kind of protein: prawns, salmon or houmous.

When I’m filming, we might be eating dinner at a service station again, or any kind of pub or quick restaurant near where we’re working. I was brought up vegetarian and although I do eat a little bit of meat now, it’s rare, so dinner is most likely to be vegetarian or some kind of fish and vegetables. But, if I’m home, my husband and I love to cook. We’ll go to town on a mid-week dinner. I tend to snack on nuts, fruit, kefir or boiled eggs.

My diet’s ordinarily pretty good so I haven’t made major changes since becoming pregnant, but when I was on a shoot for Food Unwrapped in Hawaii recently, my brilliant NHS midwife in the UK texted me to say that my blood test results were in and that my iron levels were on the floor. Like lots of pregnant women, I was prescribed iron supplements and my midwife recommended I eat lots of beef and leafy greens. I don’t usually eat beef but have been duly tucking in since then and have managed to bring my iron levels back up.

Ordinarily I don’t take any vitamins or supplements as I eat a varied diet and get all my vitamins from food. But during pregnancy my iron levels have been very low so I take a prescribed iron supplement.

I love to run and ran the London Marathon last year. But I recently had to hang up my running shoes around the fifth month of pregnancy because of round ligament pain. For now, it’s all yoga and swimming until my baby is born.

My one top tip for healthy living would be vegetables, vegetables and more vegetables. I once made a documentary looking at who is living the longest around the planet. I met lots of people in many different countries who had reached 100 years of age and the common theme in their diets was, you guessed it…vegetables. And lots of them, every day. My goal each day is to eat 10, with most of those being veg with just a couple of fruit thrown in. Being on the road a lot, I do often fall short. But a solid five, six or seven is still a good day.

Channel 4’s Kate Quilton will return to our screens later this year. Follow Kate on Twitter @Quilton

© Image of Kate Quilton courtesy of Sam Harris

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