You’ll all have heard the advice to eat your ‘5-a day’ - at least 5 different portions of fruit and veg each day, but did you know fruit and veg should make up around a third of your diet?
Fruit and veg is a carbohydrate that supplies the body with energy, it’s packed full of vitamins and minerals, fibre and in many cases water (helping with hydration). Different coloured fruit and veg supply different nutrients so try to get as much variety as possible rather than sticking to a couple of favourites! Aim to include all the colour spectrum - for example:
Green - broccoli, pears, watercress, kiwis, courgettes, spring greens, peas
Orange - peppers, carrots, oranges, sweet potatoes, butternut squash (oh and oranges!)
Red - tomatoes, red peppers, strawberries, raspberries, radishes
Yellow - sweetcorn, bananas, pineapple, yellow peppers
Purple - red cabbage, beetroot, red onion, black grapes, aubergine
white - onions, mushroom, spring onions, cauliflower
How easy do you find it? Is 5 a struggle or does it come easy to you? Here are some ideas:
Breakfast - include berries or melon with a sweet breakfast or tomatoes and mushrooms with eggs or make a smoothie with yoghurt or a protein shake, banana and frozen fruit
Snacks - fruit makes an easy portable snack, a banana is a great energy boost, an apple with some cheese or nuts or carrot and pepper sticks with houmous. Try making a big mixed fruit salad and store it in the fridge - it’s much more appealing if you are reluctant to munch through something off the fruit bowl.
Lunch - add a big mixed salad, a veg based soup or salad leaves and cucumber in your sandwich
Dinner - could be as easy as 2 or 3 veg on the side but there are so many ways to build a variety of veg into a meal such as packing a Bolognese sauce with different chopped veggies, splitting your carbs half and half with veggies, adding a handful of salad leaves on the side or a stir fry using a pack of ready shredded veg. If you struggle with the texture of veg or have people in the family who do, try making a sauce packed with a variety of veg and blend it.
Evidence shows that people who eat 5 or more fruit and veg a day are less likely to experience strokes, heart disease, obesity or some forms of cancer. In addition, vitamins and minerals are vital for the body to function properly, for example supporting the eyes, skin, blood pressure, blood formation and immunity - not to mention the benefits of fibre for your digestive system.
A quick note on sugar - Diabetes UK and the NHS recommend no more than 150ml of fruit juice a day. If you think about eating a whole large orange, the segment skins provide fibre and take time to digest, it’s a filling piece of fruit. If you’ve ever juiced oranges at home, you’ll know if take A LOT of oranges to make juice, so a large portion of juice contains the calories and sugar from far more oranges than you’d ever consider eating in one go and you’ve lost the filling bulk and fibre of the segments along the way.
5-a-day is a starting point, why not set yourself a challenge and aim for 8-10? It’s not as hard as it sounds with a little thought and there’s lots of good value fruit and veg if you look for it - include seasonal offers, frozen veg and fruit and canned fruit and Aldi’s weekly offers! Try things you’ve never had before and look for vegetable based recipes - you can still add meat or fish if you want to.
Get in touch, I’d love to know if this is something you find easy or if it’s work in progress for you, whether you’re up for the challenge, it really is worth it! Give it a try and see how you feel.