We all know that we should eat lots of fruit and vegetables, but how many of us actually manage to eat 5 portions every day? What counts? And how important is it? These are often questions our members at easyGym ask us, along with how to do so on a budget.
What is 5-a-day?
5-a-day advice for adults is based upon the World Health Organisation guidance which recommends eating at least 400g of fruit & vegetables a day. This makes the recommended size for one portion of fruit or veg for an adult approximately 80g.
What is included?
- All fruits - fresh, frozen or tinned (in natural juice or water, with no added sugar or salt). Dried fruit, such as currants, dates, sultanas and figs counts as one portion per day, but no more.
- All vegetables - fresh, frozen or tinned (in natural juice or water, with no added sugar or salt), except potatoes, cassava, yams or plaintain as they mostly contribute to starch in the diet.
- Fruit and vegetable juice – no matter how much you drink, unsweetened 100% fruit or vegetable juice can only contribute to 1 portion of 5-a-day. This is because it doesn’t contain the edible fruit pulp, and less fibre. Smoothies can count as a maximum of 2 portions a day, as long as they contain 2 different portions of fruits or vegetables.
- Beans & other pulses – these cannot count as more than 1 portion per day, as they do not contain as many vitamins and minerals as other vegetables.
Why eat 5-a-day?
- They’re a great source of vitamins and minerals to keep the body healthy.
- They contain antioxidants and phytochemicals that may reduce the risk of chronic illnesses, such as cancer & heart disease.
- They’re an excellent source of fibre, which helps maintain a healthy digestive system.
- They are ideal to keep your weight in control, as they are filling, but naturally low in fat and calories.
How best to eat your 5-a-day
If you need to work to a budget, don’t worry! Swapping ready meals and unhealthy snacks for more fruit & veg can improve not only long term health but also your bank balance! Just follow these handy tips:
- Look out for offers – this will also give you variety & make you try something new! Fruit and vegetables are often cheaper if they are in season or frozen. And stock up on cans when they are on offer, as they have a longer shelf life!
- Avoid waste - before you go to the supermarket, make a list of exactly what you need. To do this, plan each of your meals, and then work out how much you need of each fruit or veg to make all your meals, without wastage. If you simply place a variety of fruit & veg in your trolley, you may find you have lots leftover by the end of the week.
- Use leftovers – make a smoothie with fruit, or soup, pie or risotto with veg, don’t throw them away!
- Visit your local market - fruit & veg are often cheaper (and tastier!) at your local market, plus they are often fresher!
- Add extra veg to your favourite meals – such as extra toppings on your pizza, carrots & courgette in your bolognese, or fresh peppers & tomatoes in your pasta sauce.
- Make your own sauces from scratch – use tinned tomatoes as a basis for meals such as casseroles, spaghetti bolognese and chilli, instead of using expensive sauces, which are often high in salt and sugar.
- Cook in bulk and freeze – this will ensure you can eat healthily on those days you don’t have much time to cook.
- Healthy snacks – fresh or dried fruit is often half the price of chocolate or crisps, or how about celery & carrot sticks with a dip in front of a film… better for you AND your wallet!
- Add fruit to your cereal – a great way to start the day, add a glass of fresh juice, and you are 2 portions down before you start your day!
If you would like any more advice on any aspect of your diet, please speak to an easyGym staff member on the gym floor, or book in to see one of our Personal Trainers who specialises in nutrition – all of their details can be found in the member zone.