Fruit and veg are a vital part of a healthy, balanced diet. Not only are they a fantastic source of vitamins and minerals but they also provide dietary fibre – no need for lots of detail here; lets just say that fibre keeps everything running smoothly. Fruit and veg are amazing really, even reducing the risk of stroke, some cancers and heart disease.
Most of us have heard the five-a-day mantra promoted by the NHS and the World Health Organisation, but did you know that five portions of fruit and veg is actually just the suggested minimum? In most European countries the advice is to try to get eight!
So, given that they are so important, why do we find it hard to achieve that magic number each day? Here are our top tips for getting your five-a-day without even noticing.
Dont make it harder than it needs to be
No one is asking you to only eat fruit and veg; you should just aim to get what you need.
A portion of fruit or veg is around 80g or a handful sized amount. As a guide, one portion would be one apple, one banana or one nectarine. For larger fruit youre looking at half a grapefruit, one slice of papaya or melon, a large slice of pineapple or two slices of mango. For veg, a single portion consists of two broccoli spears or four heaped tablespoons of cooked spinach or green beans. One medium tomato or seven cherry tomatoes count as one portion and when it comes to carrots you need three heaped tablespoons.
Make breakfast count
If you can, get one or two of your five out of the way at the start of the day. This is really easy to do with a fruit salad (make it on day one and itll last well for a second day too). Or you could try porridge with blueberries and raspberries on top.
Have a healthy mid-morning drink
A 150ml glass of unsweetened fruit juice can count as a portion, and a smoothie might even count as two depending on the quantities of fruit or veg used.
Grazing on dried fruit is another easy way to get another portion under your belt one portion of dried fruit is around 30g. This is the equivalent of a heaped tablespoon of raisins, three prunes or a handful of dried banana chips.
If youre having soup, yoghurt, an omelette, or rice, consider adding a little sprinkle of veg on top. Peas or chopped carrots go well with rice or in soup and grapes are great in yoghurt. Youll barely notice the difference but its all going towards that all important five.
Pick a lunch that counts
Whether youre having a sandwich, wrap or roll for lunch, pick something that includes salad. A bit of cucumber and lettuce wont hurt and you might even enjoy it. At the very least its a quick and easy way to get extra nutrients with no extra effort. If you can, pick something with spinach in because its a superfood packed with good stuff.