Are you eating your '5ADAY'?
Written by Natalie Briggs (RD)
This short blog is here to help you achieve your 5ADAY!
So why do we need fruit and vegetables? Well they help provide an abundance of vitamins and minerals that our bodies need. Most of our vitamins and minerals need to be provided by our diet as our body does not produce them. So eating your fruit and vegetables is an easy way to make sure you are giving your body what it needs.
On top of this, fruit and veg are a great source of fibre. We know how important fibre is to help reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. Not to mention it is linked with lowering blood cholesterol and blood pressure. Sounds good doesn’t it?
What is very interesting is that eating a balanced diet that is rich in fruit and vegetables is the second most important cancer prevention strategy, falling just behind giving up smoking (BDA, 2020)! Hopefully all of this evidence base has got you motivated to start to eat more of the colourful stuff!
Let’s start by breaking down the ‘5ADAY’ message…
In a nutshell it means for you to achieve your 5ADAY you need to consume 5 different fruit and/or vegetables each day. For example, three vegetables and 2 pieces of fruit would equate to 5ADAY.
However, what a lot of people don’t realise (which is the reason why I thought this blog would help) is that one portion of fruit or vegetables has to be at least 80 grams in weight. So if we were to do some quick math this means eating 5 x 80 grams each day = 400 grams.
Of course I would not expect you to weigh out every portion of fruit/vegetables you eat each day. It is more to be aware of approximately how big a portion is, as after all that is more realistic then you carrying around scales for the foreseeable!
Examples of 80g include:
· Two satsumas/tangerine/plum
· One orange/pear/banana/apple
· Two handfuls of raspberries/blueberries
· One handful of grapes
· Three tablespoons of vegetables (including raw/cooked/frozen and tinned)
· Three tablespoons of beans, peas, lentils
· A moderate bowl full of spinach or lettuce
· Half an avocado
What is also useful to know is that some foods you may not expect also count towards your 5ADAY:
· 150mls of 100% fruit/vegetable juice or smoothie
· 30 grams of dried fruit e.g. raisins
· 80 grams of sweet potato
*Remember that 150mls of fruit juice is a maximum as anymore may contribute to excess calorie intake and also tooth decay! (As the fruit is ‘squashed’ it releases the sugar in the fruit).
One important thing to remember is that you should aim to have 5 different fruit and/or vegetables rather than 400 grams of just grapes as an example. It means you are feeding your body, and more importantly your gut, with an array of nutrients.
Finally, there is nothing stopping you having more than 5 portions of fruit/vegetables a day... go for 8,9 or 10 if you can! The more variety the better.
I wanted to finish this blog with some handy ideas that you can try to increase your fruit and vegetable consumption:
· Add in 80 grams fresh/frozen or 30 grams of dried fruit if you want a sweet one!
(Berries with yoghurt and muesli, banana on toast, fresh or cooked fruit with pancakes)
· Add 80 grams of any vegetable if you fancy a savoury one
(Tomatoes/Mushrooms with eggs or toast, Onions or leeks in an omelette, Beans on toast)
-Add vegetables to a sandwich or wrap – spinach, tomatoes, onions, cucumber, peppers
-Add beans or pulses to a jacket potato
-Add sweet potato to a colourful salad
· Add onions, peppers, spinach, mushrooms, peas to a hearty curry
· Add carrots, onions, celery to a spaghetti bolognaise
· Roast an array of tomatoes, leeks, onions, peppers, courgette and make a Mediterranean style tart or a tray bake (flavoured with pesto or spices is delicious!)
· Add a portion of chickpeas, lentils or kidney beans to a chilli or curry
· Experiment with a vegetarian lasagne using leeks, mushrooms or kale for a tasty twist
For a Snack
· A simple apple, banana or a handful of grapes to keep you going
· 30 grams of dried fruit paired with a handful of nuts
· Chopped carrot or cucumber dipped into some houmous
· A handful of berries paired with custard or yoghurt
· Chocolate covered or peanut filled dates
If you are still wanting more ideas please check out my Instagram: DietitianBriggs
I have many recipes on there that are jam packed with all your favourite fruit and vegetables!
If you found this blog useful then please share to get the 5ADAY message out there!