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5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day: Is it really enough?

5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day is what is normally recommended for us to consume, but is it really enough? We got the low-down from nutritionist Amanda Callenberg in this Q&A all about whether or not we should be having more than 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day!

Is 5 portions of fruit of vegetables a day enough?

We really should be aiming for 7 portions of vegetables and 3 portions of fruit per day. The quality of produce we get today is quite poor and depleted of vital nutrients, so we need to be consuming a much higher amount of vegetables and fruit to ensure we are meeting our daily nutrient needs. We also need to think about fibre when we think about health. Fibre is abundant in plants and it has been shown that people who eat a fibre rich diet, and those who include 8 portions or more of vegetables and fruit, have a much lower risk of suffering from many chronic diseases.

Can you tell me some surprising foods that count towards your 5 portions of fruit and vegetables?

  • Chickpeas: (3 heaped tablespoons) - we tend to think of fruits and vegetables when we think about our 5 a day, but this pulse counts towards your daily intake. Add them to your salads, blend them up to make homemade hummus or swap half of your rice portion to make a 50/50 rice and chickpea dish

  • Guacamole: (made with ½ an avocado) - spread some on a slice of toast or cut up some carrots and enjoy it as a dip 

  • Raisins: (1 heaped tablespoon) - add them to your morning porridge or combine with mixed nuts for a healthy afternoon snack 

  • Tomato puree: (1½ tablespoon) - add to your pasta sauce or soups

What are some surprising foods that don’t count towards your 5 portions of fruit and vegetables?

  • White potatoes: Being that white potatoes are classed as a starch, they are actually a carbohydrate so they do not count towards one of your 5 a day. Swap white potatoes for sweet potato and make them into wedges, sweet potato mash or baked potato.

  • Plantain: Another food that is classed as a starch so does not count towards your 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Swap for an unripe banana, which has the added health benefits of prebiotic fibres.

Can you give us some simple ways to increase your fruit and veg count?

  • Add a handful of spinach and mixed berries to your smoothies.

  • Stock the freezer up with frozen vegetables and add them to curries, stews and rice dishes

  • Swap your potato mash for either sweet potato or cauliflower mash

  • Serve your meals with a side salad and include lots of colour; carrots, tomatoes, cucumber, olives, onions, spinach.  

  • Cut up fresh vegetables like celery, carrots, cucumber and eat them as a snack with some salsas, guacamole or hummus 

  • Layer up your sandwiches with tomatoes, avocado, cucumber, peppers and spinach 

  • Add fresh fruit to your water 

So there you have it - while 5 a day is better than none a day, it’s nowhere near as much fruit and veg as we should be eating. They should make up the vast majority of our plates, but they often only feature as a side, if that.




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