The importance of five a day

Why is five a day so important?
All this talk of five fruit or vegetables a day is all very well, but why do we need it, and how much is actually required?

What is a portion?
A portion is about 80g of fruit or veg which roughly equates to an apple, an orange, two plums, a handful of grapes or berries, two serving spoons of cooked veg, a dessert bowl of salad, two serving spoons of beans and pulses and a 150ml glass of fresh juice or smoothie.

Most of us in the UK manage to eat just 2 to 3 servings a day and few realise that ‘5-A-Day’ is the absolute minimum. Other countries exceed our guidelines – some almost double them! For example the Australian government recommends 7-a-day and in Greece it is 9-a-day.

We need to eat fruit and vegetables every day to provide the body with the fibre, minerals, vitamins, phytonutrients and trace elements it needs to prevent deficiency related diseases such as scurvy, depression, heart disease and cancer.

It is not that easy however, otherwise more would be following the government guidelines. So, to move forward, I challenge you to keep a note of how many portions of fruit and vegetables you eat each day over the course of a week and then pledge to increase this figure by 1 portion per day each week until you are eating a minimum of five but ideally eight to ten servings a day – at least three of which should be vegetables.

A few easy ideas…

  • Eat a piece of fruit mid-morning and mid-afternoon with a few nuts
  • Add chopped apple, pear or berries to cereal or porridge
  • Cook a bowlful of frozen veg with each main meal
  • Drink fresh vegetable juice
  • Add veg to omelettes, fish and chips, lasagne…
  • Eat raw veg with humous
  • Order salads, soups and side dishes of veg when eating out 

This article was provided by Anneliese Benzie Nutrition.