You’re taught it from a very young age – Make sure you get your 5-a-day! But if we can remember to do all the other things we were told to growing up, why is it so many of us seem to neglect one of the most important?
I was channel hopping the other day when I noticed QVC selling the NutriBullet (essentially a rapid belnder), and it was there I heard the statistic that 85% of Britons regularly don’t meet the requirement of 5 pieces of fruit and vegetables a day. It seemed a staggeringly high number then and I’m no less shocked thinking about it now.
I suppose first we should identify why it is we actually need to be getting AT LEAST 5 portions every single day:
- Fruits and vegetables are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals that would otherwise need supplementing
- In particular many fruits contain good levels of both vitamin C and potassium
- They’re generally our primary source of dietary fibre, which helps to maintain a healthy digestive system as well as keeping our gut clean
It’s not like you need the primary school lesson again though. We know that we all need to eat fruit and vegetables! It doesn’t matter what your age is, your gender, physical fitness or anything. But if you are training they are particularly beneficial – fruits contain sugar in the form of fructose and are therefore an amazing source of energy. But what’s great about them is that they are usually low in fat and calories so you can eat them without compromising your nutitional program.
Getting 5-a-day is great, but it’s even better if you can make that the right 5-a-day. If you decide to eat 5 apples, yes you will have had your 5-a-day, which means you are doing better than 85% of the country – but you can still do more. Try to vary your sources of fruit and vegetables as much as possible. Just because we say that fruits and vegetables contain vitamins and minerals doesn’t mean that they all contain them in the same proportions. If you vary the 5 things that you eat you wil be getting a decent combination of all the benefits that fruits and vegetables have to offer.
Another problem is that some people think they are having enough when they aren’t. In fact a lot of people aren’t actually sure what counts as 1 of the 5-a-day. Firstly pretty much any fruit or vegetable counts, it doesn’t matter if it’s fresh, frozen, tinned or picked straight from the tree that day! You don’t need to eat them on their own either, even if they come as part of a sandwich, soup or stew, they all count. Just remember though that if you start frying in oil then even though you might be getting your 5 portions, you might not be getting them in the best way possible.
When it comes to frsh fruit I like to follow the rule of a standard serving or a handful. So for an apple, banana, orange etc. you should be able to tell what a medium sized one is – that’s one portion. Then for fruits like berries, grapes or pomegranate seeds then a large handful constitutes one serving. And if you are sat thinking, ‘do potatoes count?’, the answer is no. They are great for us and packed full of nutrients but they’re just a bit too starchy to count for our 5-a-day.
As you probably know you can get servings from drinks too. 150 ml is a serving, but you can only have one serving from fruit juice a day! So necking pint after pint of orange juice is no good.
5-a-day might seem a bit childish, but it’s sound advice and whatever your goals it’s a good thing to conform to. Don’t forget though, 5 is the minimum we need to maintain a healthy lifestyle, so don’t be afraid of going above and beyond that. Fruit and vegetables are great for your body and your mind!