15 ways to get your ‘five a day’
Tips to increase your fruit and veg intake
Most of us know that we should be eating our five a day of fruit and vegetables yet so few of us actually do it. To help you out we've put together 15 tips to ensure you boost your fruit and veg intake and get your five a day.
According to Cancer Research UK, only 14 per cent of Brits consume the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables per day, with the average adult eating fewer than three portions of fruit and vegetables a day and one in five children aged four to 18 eating no fruit at all in a typical week. Across the pond, Americans only fare slightly better with approximately 24.5 per cent of adults consuming fruit and vegetables five or more times each day.
With the UK Government’s Advisory Committee, COMA, stating that there is moderate evidence to show that higher fruit and vegetable consumption will reduce the risk of colon, stomach, lung and oesophageal cancer, we can’t afford to keep dodging the fruit and vegetable aisle. And five portions of fruit and veg per day is not the recommended maximum — it’s an ‘at least’ figure. Research in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that a minimum of six servings of fruit and vegetables a day reduced the risk of stroke by approximately 30 per cent, while a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found an intake of at least eight daily servings was associated with a greater decrease in coronary heart disease risk.
So, how are you going to boost your fruit and veg intake? Here are 15 easy ways:
- Start the day with a glass of fresh, unsweetened fruit juice. One of your five portions of fruit and veg can be in liquid form — and it’s good to get your first portion in nice and early. But remember: a glass or more of 100 per cent fruit juice only counts as one portion per day, no matter how much you drink.
- Chop fruit onto your cereal. It doesn’t have to be the ubiquitous banana — try pineapple, strawberries or grated apple as alternatives. Remember, you can use canned fruit, too (but avoid those in syrup!).
- Don’t forget frozen fruit — it’s just as nutritious as the fresh stuff, and is a real convenience food. Try leaving out a bowlful of frozen mixed berries before you go to bed, and then adding yogurt and a handful of mixed nuts to it in the morning to get a tasty breakfast.
- Make a smoothie. Add fresh or defrosted soft fruit to yogurt, add a little milk or soya milk, and blend.
- Mash a ripe banana onto toast for a delicious snack. If you also add peanut butter you’ll be getting a great balance of protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamins and minerals.
- Dried fruit makes a great on-the-move snack, as it’s easy to carry and packed with fiber. Apricots, raisins, prunes or figs are all tasty options. But be aware that dried fruit can only count as one of your five a day, no matter how much of it you eat.
- Never leave the house without a piece of fruit in your bag. If traveling in the car, keep fruit in the glovebox or another shaded place.
- Get raw power! Snack on raw veggies such carrot, celery and cucumber. Dip them in salsa and you pack an even greater antioxidant punch.
- Pile extra salad (tomatoes, onion, lettuce) into rolls and sandwiches that you have ordered by takeaway to eat at your desk at work.
- Try making or buying vegetable-based soups, such as carrot, tomato or watercress. You can even add extra canned or frozen veg, which will cook while the soup is heating through.
- Ensure you have two types of veg with dinner. Remember: you don’t necessarily have to prepare and cook two types — you could go for no-fuss options such as canned tomatoes, sweetcorn or frozen veg instead.
- Go for the convenience options! These include pre-chopped veg that you can throw into the steamer, pre-chopped mushrooms that you can pan-fry in a couple of minutes, pre-prepared stir-fry mixes, and pre-washed salad leaves. These options all make getting your ‘five a day’ that little bit easier …
- Have your finger on the pulse! Beans and other pulse vegetables — such as kidney beans, lentils and chickpeas — count towards your total, but only count as one potion per day, no matter how much you eat. Add canned mixed beans to a soup, stew or salad.
- Go for as great a variety of colours as you can. So, if you’ve had lots of green salad, opt for yellow vegetables, carrots and tomatoes. This ensures you get the broadest range of disease-fighting phytochemicals.
- Try something new every week. There are bound to be tons of fruit and veg varieties that you’ve never tasted — so vary what you buy and eat, rather than get into a rut of buying the same five things every time you go food shopping. Globe artichoke, anyone?
What constitutes one portion of fruit or veg?
|Fruit or veg||Portion|
|Small fruits (plums, satsumas, kiwis)||Two fruits|
|Medium-sized fruits (apples, oranges)||One fruit|
|Large fruits (grapefruit, mangos)||Half a fruit|
|Very large fruits (pineapples, melons)||One large piece/slice|
|Berries,grapes,chopped fruit or fruit salad||One cup|
|Dried fruit (apricots, cranberries, raisins)||One heaped tablespoon|
|Vegetables (raw, cooked, frozen or canned)||One heaped tablespoon|
|Salad leaves (spinach, rocket (arugula), lettuce, kale)||A cereal bowl full|
|Pulses (peas, beans, lentils)||Three heaped tablespoons|
|Juice (fruit or vegetable)||One 150ml (5oz) glass|