Nutritionists recommend that we all eat 5 portions of fruit and vegetables every single day – about a third of your daily food consumption. Due to our busy lifestyles, it is hard to get five portions of vegetables in our diet. Indeed, most of us fall short of this. The question is, is it really that important to get five a day and if so, how?
Tips for Getting your Five Portions a Day
- If you are busy:
Fruits and vegetables are the best things to eat since neither of them require much preparation. It’s easy to pop an apple and a banana into your bag for a snack at work. You can eat carrots, cucumbers, spinach, peppers, tomatoes and many other vegetables raw.
- If you have a hectic lifestyle:
Dried fruits and frozen vegetables are really easy to keep in the refrigerator which takes less than one minute to defrost in the microwave if you find it difficult to keep fresh fruit and vegetables at home. It is also good to put as a topping to porridge or cereal in the morning for breakfast.
- If you are on a budget:
Buy fruits that are in season and that are local, such as strawberries and asparagus in the summer time and apples and carrots in autumn. You can also buy frozen or tinned fruits and vegetables, which work out relatively cheap.
- If you just don’t eat fruit or vegetables:
Keep fruits and vegetables out where you can see them and make them fun to eat by finding new recipes or having them as desert with a small spoonful of icecream on the side. Try new and exotic fruits. The easiest way of consuming our daily intake is to juice fruit and vegetables with a food blender and then have it as a smoothie with some ice cubes.
Importance of 5-A-Day
Fruits and vegetables are important sources of vitamins, minerals and fiber. They have important anti-oxidant effects on the body against free radicals. Population studies have shown that people who eat a lot of fruit and vegetables may have a lower risk of chronic disease, such as heart disease and some cancers.
It is important to aim for five portions of vegetables and fruit every day but this depends on the person. Here is a calculator to work out just how much you need every day.
What Counts as One of 5-A-Day?
Fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables, except for potatoes because they are starchy. Tinned or canned fruit and vegetables: buy the ones with no added sugar or salt. Dried fruit, such as currants, dates, sultanas and figs are also good. Fruit and vegetables cooked in dishes such as soups, stews or pasta dishes. A glass (150ml) of unsweetened 100% fruit or vegetable juice count up to a maximum of one portion a day. Smoothies count as up to a maximum of two portions per day. Beans and pulses only count as one portion a day, no matter how many you eat.
Here are a few examples as to what counts as a portion:
- 1 apple
- 32 grapes
- 1 large banana
- 12 baby carrots
- 1 cup of green beans