We’ve all seen the 5 a day messages, but how many of us ask why 5 a day and how many of us are achieving it? Let’s find out.
Let’s start by looking at why we should make getting our 5 a day a priority. Fruits and vegetables are among the most nutrient rich of all the food groups. They contain a wide variety of crucial vitamins, minerals, fibre, antioxidants and phytonutrients. They also tend to be low in calories – win-win! Even fruit, which sometimes gets bad press over concerns about its sugar content, is generally low in calories. A portion of blueberries, for example? A portion is around 2 small handfuls and contains half the calories of a single finger of a Kit Kat.
Why 5 a day? Well, the World Health Organisation recommends at least 5 portions daily as research shows this is the amount required to significantly reduce our risk of chronic diseases, like heart disease, stroke and even some forms of cancer. Research also shows that these benefits from fruits and veggies might increase all the way up to 10 portions a day. So you should consider eating 5 portions a day as your minimum.
How are we doing in the UK? As of 2018, only 28% of the population were regularly hitting their five a day target. On average we’re managing around 3.7 portions a day. While we could be doing worse, there’s certainly room for improvement, and given the astounding benefits these nutrient powerhouses offer, it’s worth considering ways to get a few more into your diet.
Just so you know, a portion is:
- 80 grams of fresh, frozen or tinned fruit or vegetables
- 30 grams of dried fruit
- 150ml fruit juice (try to limit this to no more than 1 of your daily portions though)
Have you had your 5 a day today?