PEOPLE in Somerset are being advised to lay off foods high in sugar, saturated fat, salt and processed ingredients if they want to stay healthy this winter.

Minehead GP and Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group chairman Dr Ed Ford said: "Processed foods - pre-prepared items such as cakes, crisps, burgers and sausages - can be very high in salt, saturated fat and sugar.

"Eating these items in moderation is OK, but we should try to keep our consumption of them to a minimum.

"It is much better for us to eat unprocessed foods which contain high levels of nutrients and fibre, such as fruit and vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes, unprocessed fish and meat, and starchy foods such as brown rice, wholewheat pasta, and brown, wholemeal or higher fibre white bread.

"The less processed the food you eat is and the more balanced your diet, the better."

To have a healthy, balanced diet, people should:

•eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day;

•base meals on higher fibre starchy foods such as potatoes, bread, rice or pasta;

•have some dairy or dairy alternatives such as soya drinks;

•eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other protein;

•choose unsaturated oils and spreads to eat in small amounts;

•drink plenty of fluids.

Dr Ford added: "If you can find the time to prep your meals, it can really help you get a better control of your diet.

"Convenience is one of the main reasons why we eat unhealthily, so if you make things easier by setting a meal plan for the week, or prepping your lunches over the weekend, you may in turn find it easier to avoid a processed lunch."

Eating healthily will boost your immune system and can also help you lose weight.