We’ve all heard about Five a Day in relation to the benefits
of consuming five portions of fruit and vegetables every day.
The NHS guidelines can be found at: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/5-a-day-portion-sizes/
If you’re wondering what a portion of fruit or veg looks
like, they categorise an adult portion as being 80g and explain how this
relates to specific foods, eg one portion is the equivalent of two satsumas,
one banana, two broccoli spears or three heaped tablespoons of pulses or beans.
But did you know that Five a Day is only a minimum starting
point – we should really be eating around five portions of fruit and five
portions of veg every day.
Whether you eat most of your meals at home or on the go, there are ways to ensure you get your full daily quota of fruit and veg.
What does five portions of fruit and of veg look like in a
The easiest way to get your full 10 a Day is to add some
fruit and veg to every meal. But don’t forget that you can also replace
unhealthy snacks, such as crisps, chocolate or biscuits, with snacks containing
fruit and veg.
Here are a few ideas to help you stick to a 10 a Day diet:
Low-sugar cereal topped with a portion of grapes and a
Porridge mixed with a portion of dried fruit and one of
Scrambled eggs with asparagus, grilled mushrooms and
Mid-morning snack ideas:
A homemade fruit salad
Celery with peanut butter
Melon chunks sprinkled with pine nuts
Roasted butternut squash and puy lentil salad with spinach,
cherry tomatoes and pumpkin seeds
Chicken tacos with diced avocado and tomatoes
Focaccia sandwich with roasted slices of aubergine,
courgette and pepper
Afternoon snack ideas:
Banana wrap – a banana wrapped in a wholewheat tortilla
spread with peanut butter
Natural yoghurt or fromage frais topped with strawberries
Carrot sticks with hummus
Evening meal options:
Steak with parsnip chips, peas and mushroom gravy
Chicken curry made with cauliflower and mushrooms, served
with curried chickpeas
Salmon fillets with noodles, chopped peppers, mushrooms and
courgettes in soy sauce
Veggie sausages with carrot and swede mash
Nut roast made with root vegetables, red lentils and mixed
nuts, with a tomato-based sauce
Apple and blackberry crumble with custard
Banana bread with frozen yoghurt
Tips for food on the go
Processed food is often high in sugar, salt and fat – even
for snacks that many of us presume are a healthier option, such as vegetable
crisps. So the ideal option is to prepare your meals at home from scratch.
For lunchtime meals, this can be done the evening before to
save time. If you have a microwave at work, why not prepare some freezable
meals at the weekend and simply take them out the night before or heat from
frozen for soups, stews etc.
Any pitfalls to look out for?
Note that potatoes and similar starchy foods such as yams
don’t count towards your five a day.
Dried fruit, fruit juice and smoothies should all be
consumed in moderation as they can be high in sugar, which is detrimental to
your diet and your teeth. Eating fresh fruit also provides important fibre not
found in fruit juice and smoothies.
Other benefits of eating more fruit and veg
fruit and vegetables means you can replace some of the processed food and high
carbohydrate meals with a range of healthy high and low carb options.
vegetables and sweetcorn, for example, are high-carbohydrate options that can
provide an energy boost without resorting to starchy food. While there are
plenty of low-carb options, such as water melon, cauliflower, spinach, broccoli
and two veg with mashed potatoes will give you two of your 10 a Day, it won’t
be the healthiest meal if the meat is a cheap, fatty cut that has been fried
and the mash is smothered in butter.
plenty of healthier options, just search for recipes online and consider
replacing meat with other protein, such as fish, pulses, seeds and nuts, which
are usually lower in calories and add healthy oils into your diet.