The ‘five-a-day’ campaign was created in the USA in the late 80s and by 2003 had been officially adopted by the UK government. The World Health Organization (WHO) state that 1.7 million deaths worldwide are attributed too low fruit and vegetable consumption. WHO recommends a minimum of 400g of fruit and vegetables per day (excluding potatoes and other starchy tubers) for the prevention of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity, as well as for the prevention and alleviation of several micronutrient deficiencies.
Almost all fruit and vegetables count as part of your ‘five-a-day’ and they don’t always have to be fresh, as frozen, tinned and dried fruit and vegetables count as well. It is important to eat a variety of fruit and vegetables as they each provide us with different nutrients.
So, What Counts As A Portion?
The British Nutrition Foundation recommend:
80 Grams Of Fresh, Frozen Or Canned Fruit Or Vegetables
This is the equivalent of two or more small fruits (eg satsumas), one medium-sized fruit, (an apple or banana), or half a grapefruit or one large slice of melon. A portion of vegetables would be two broccoli spears or three heaped tablespoons of cooked vegetables such as sweetcorn, peas or carrots.
30g Of Dried Fruit
Should be eaten at mealtimes and not in between meals – to limit the sugar effect on teeth.
80g Beans And Pulses
They provide the same amount of vitamins and minerals as fruit and vegetables.
100% Fruit, Vegetable Juices/Smoothies
These should only ever count as one of your five-a-day and preferably taken at mealtimes. This is because when fruit or vegetables are blended, they release sugars that cause damage to teeth. Also, the actual process of eating and biting through fruit and vegetables has an effect on satiety – the feeling of being full and satisfied after a meal which suppresses the feeling of hunger.
The reason potatoes don’t count in your five-a-day is because a potato is typically eaten as the main starch in a meal and is considered a starchy carbohydrate like rice and pasta. However, other root vegetables such as sweet potatoes, parsnips and turnips, are usually eaten as a vegetable alongside the main starchy food in a meal – these do count towards your fruit and vegetable portions.