How to make sure you eat enought fruit and vegetables

Most people know that we should be eating more fruit and vegetables. But most of us aren’t eating enough and we should be eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day.

Fruit and vegetables are brimming with fibre, plus a whole range of vitamins and minerals, and because they’re low in calories, they make an important and healthy addition to any diet. Scientific studies have shown that people who eat a lot of fruit and vegetables have a lower risk of getting illnesses, such as heart disease and some cancers.

For this reason, health authorities recommend that you eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day — and it doesn’t matter whether they’re fresh, tinned, frozen, cooked, juiced or dried. If you buy tinned fruit or vegetables make sure that no sugar or artificial sweeteners have been added and buy organic where possible. Remember that potatoes don’t count because they’re a starchy food.

How much is a portion?

  • One piece of medium-sized fruit – eg, an apple, peach, banana or orange
  • One slice of large fruit, such as melon, mango or pineapple
  • One handful of grapes or two handfuls of cherries or berry fruits
  • One tablespoon of dried fruit
  • A glass (roughly 100ml) of fruit or vegetable juice
  • A small tin (roughly 200g) of fruit
  • A side salad
  • A serving (roughly 100g) of vegetables – eg, peas, boiled carrots or stir-fried broccoli
  • The vegetables served in a portion of vegetable curry, lasagne, stir-fry or casserole

Fruit and vegetables should make up about a third of the food you eat each day, even more if you can manage it. And it’s also important to eat a variety. Five-a-day is a good, achievable target. If you count your portions each day it might help you to increase the amount you eat. And if you still find this hard to get your head around here are some tips on how to get your daily quota without too much preparation:

A glass of fruit or vegetable juice counts as one serving. However, as the juice doesn’t contain the pulp of the actual fruit, you can only count this once, no matter how many glasses of juice you consume.

Fruit with Cereal
If you have a bowl of cereal for breakfast, add a chopped banana or some strawberries for a fruity twist — there’s another one.

Sip on Soup
Here’s a healthy and cheap option for lunch. Make a big pot of homemade vegetable soup at the beginning of the week. Keep it in the fridge and dip in for lunch every day. Pack it full of any veggies you’ve got in the kitchen, as well as beans.

Cans Count
Fresh is obviously healthier but canned vegetables count as a portion so dig out those organic tinned beans and add some chickpeas or kidney beans to a salad, or throw a handful of diced carrots into a casserole. Frozen vegetables are also acceptable so there’s no excuse if there’s nothing fresh in the fridge.

Fruit Snacks
Carry a couple of pieces of fruit in your bag for a snack during the day. Use it as an excuse to try fruit you wouldn’t normally choose.

Salad Starter
Get into the habit of making yourself a side salad to eat with dinner. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, just some leaves and sliced cucumber.

Stick to these tips and you should have no problem getting your five a day. Hopefully you’ll feel the benefits, especially through the colder months when everyone around you will be coughing and sneezing.

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