There has been a lot of mention in the news lately about an increase of your fruit and veg intake from 5 to 7 or 10 portions a day. All the commotion is based on new research published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. The study found that seven or more helpings a day can reduce a person’s overall risk of death by 42% when compared to people who manage just one whole portion every day.
What does this really mean? It reinforces something that we have known for years – eating fresh fruit and vegetables is a healthy option and we should incorporate it into our daily meal plans whenever possible. The study simply shows that the more portions you add to your diet (especially fresh vegetables), the healthier you will be.
How can you get five plus servings of fruit and veg into your diet? By making simple additions or substitutions to your main meals and snack, you will reach your five a day in no time. You might even want to consider Australia’s advice and have a 2 + 5 day (two servings of fruit and five servings of veg).
- Add fruit to cereal, porridge or lower-fat yoghurt. Try a handful of berries or a chopped banana.
- Add mushrooms or tomatoes to scrambled eggs.
- One glass (150ml) of unsweetened 100% fruit juice. Be aware that fruit or vegetable juice counts as a maximum of one portion a day.
- Make a quick smoothie in a blender using your favourite fresh or frozen fruits. A smoothie containing all of the edible pulped fruit or vegetable can count as more than one portion a day, depending on how it’s made.
- Add some crunch to your sandwiches with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber or grated carrots.
- Sticks of cucumber, peppers and carrot, and cauliflower or broccoli florets are delicious with dips such as salsa or lower-fat cheese spread.
- Add fruit and veg to your favourite meals. Try adding chopped carrots to bolognese sauce, sprinkle chopped red peppers on your pasta, or mix veg such as peas into mashed potato to make it even tastier. Add tomatoes to your omelette or mushrooms to your next stir-fry.
- Add beans, lentils and pulses to stews, soups, bakes and salads. However much you eat, beans and pulses count as a maximum of one portion a day.
- Have a salad or vegetable side dish with your main meal. If you’re having shepherd’s pie, have some peas too. If you’re having a roast dinner, add some carrots or broccoli to your plate.
- Frozen fruit and veg count. It only takes a couple of minutes to microwave some frozen peas, mixed vegetables or mini corn on the cob.
- Canned fruit and veg count too. It’s healthier to choose fruit canned in juice rather than sugary syrup, and veg canned in water without added salt or sugar.
- It’s easy to add fresh, frozen or canned fruit and veg to meals. Sprinkle sweetcorn or pineapple chunks on top of a thin-based pizza, or liven up soups and sauces with a handful of kidney beans, peas or sweetcorn.
And don’t forget the snacks:
- Swap sugary snacks, such as biscuits, for a piece of fruit.
- Swap a blueberry muffin for a currant bun on its own or with some reduced fat spread.
- Swap yoghurt-coated raisins for plain raisins.
- Swap salted nuts for unsalted nuts.
- Swap cheese straws for rice cakes with lower-fat cream cheese.
Remember, small changes are easy to make and they can make a big difference in the long run. And don’t worry about the number of portions, just make sure you are getting them.