How To Always Get Your Five A Day Fruit And Veg Portions

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A new survey has shown that only one in three Brits manages to eat the recommended five daily portions of fruits and vegetables. The Guardian reports that the results of a study published by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) show that 33% of adults in the UK and Ireland meet the official target.

While this figure may seem to be on the low side, it puts the UK and Ireland jointly top of a table of 33 countries, sharing the top spot with Korea. The average figure for all countries was just 15%. 

Anna Daniels, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association, said: “It is very encouraging that the UK and Ireland are leading in consumption of fruits and vegetables with one in three achieving the five a day target.”

“However there is certainly room for improvement. There are still two in three not getting their five a day. It can be as easy as adding a handful of spinach into pasta, or peas into rice. The benefits are huge and once you are in a good routine, it is easily done.”

  • Why is there an official guideline for fruit and veg consumption?

The 5 A Day campaign is based on advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO). Fruit and vegetables are a good source of dietary fibre, which helps to keep the gut functioning properly and reduces the risk of bowel cancer. They are also packed with essential vitamins and minerals, and are low in calories and unhealthy fats.

  • What counts as a portion?

The NHS defines a portion as 80g of fresh, canned, or frozen vegetables or fruit. Canned produce should be in water or natural juice with no added sugar or salt. 30g of dried fruit such as sultanas or prunes counts for one portion, and fruit juice, smoothies, beans or pulses should only count as one portion per day. Potatoes do not count however.

  • Tips to get your 5 A Day every day

If you have limited time to prepare meals, getting in your 5 a Day can be a real challenge, no matter how aware you are of the health benefits. Using tinned tomatoes in your recipes is a useful tip, because they go well with a range of foods such as pasta, rice, and lentils. Cooking a portion of frozen vegetables as a side dish or to top up stews is quick and easy.

Another great tip is to swap regular potatoes for sweet potatoes, because sweet potatoes contain more complex carbs and vitamins than regular potatoes, and so they do count as a recommended 5 a Day portion. 

Another way to ensure that you are getting the right balance of vitamins and minerals in your diet is to use fruit and vegetable powders. These are extracted from whole foods and retain all of the nutritional content. They can simply be sprinkled onto dishes such as stews and soups, or added to smoothies.

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