We’re all familiar with the principle of eating five portions of fruit and veg per day. Here are some tips to help you plan them seamlessly into your daily meals.
How to fit the 5-a-day into your daily diet
- Create a rainbow. A variety of colour not only gives a strong visual impact on your plate, but different coloured fruits and vegetables contain different vitamins and minerals your body needs to maintain good health.
- Have fruit with each meal. A glass of fruit juice with breakfast or the occasional fruit snack in between meals is a great way to ensure you are getting your daily allowance.
- Buy fruits and vegetables in season for the best taste and value for money.
- But also keep the cupboard well stocked. Keeping a supply of frozen, canned, chilled and dried vegetables and fruits at home means you don’t need to worry about running out.
- Add some dried or fresh fruit to your breakfast cereal, or grab a fruit smoothie to snack on.
- Get creative. You can make meals more nutritious by adding vegetables, beans or pulses to casseroles and stews, and fruit to desserts.
Be careful of fruity convenience foods. Fruit and vegetables in convenience foods can count towards your 5 a day but many of these foods may be high in added sugar, salt and fat. Be sure to check the label and eat these foods in moderation.
What counts as a portion?
All fruit and veg, including fresh, frozen, canned, dried and pure juices, count, including those that are part of a dish such as Bolognese, lasagne or curry. The exception is potatoes – these are classed as a starchy food and so aren’t included as part of 5-a-day. Pulses such as kidney beans, lentils and chickpeas only count as one portion, regardless of how much you eat, because they don’t contain the same nutrients as other fruit and veg. Meanwhile, no matter how much you drink, a small glass of pure fruit juice only counts as one portion. This is because juices lack fibre and the juicing process ‘squeezes out’ the natural sugars normally found between the cells of fruit or veg, making them less healthy for teeth. Whatever you choose, aim to eat a rainbow of colours to get a range of nutrients.
A portion of fruit or veg weighs 80g (or 30g for dried fruit). Here’s what counts as one portion:
- 1 apple, banana, pear, orange, peach or nectarine
- 2 plums, satsumas or kiwi fruits
- 3 fresh or dried apricots
- 1 large slice melon or fresh pineapple
- 1/2 grapefruit or avocado
- 7 strawberries
- 10 blackberries
- 14 cherries or grapes
- 20 raspberries
- 2 handfuls blueberries
- 3 heaped tablespoons of fruit salad or stewed fruit
- 1 heaped tablespoon of raisins or sultanas
- 3 heaped tablespoons of vegetables, beans or pulses
- 1 dessert bowl of salad
- 1 tomato or 7 cherry tomatoes
- 1 small glass (150ml) of pure fruit or vegetable juice