Posted on: 11 September 2020
Less than a third of UK adults eat the recommended five portions of fruit and veg a day. This is shocking when you consider the ‘5 a day’ figure is intended as a minimum. Studies show that eating ten portions of fruit and veg a day significantly lowers your risk of getting chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer and stroke.
So, if most of us are falling short, how can we get more fruit and veg into our diet? A portion is not as much as you might think – only 80g of fresh, canned or frozen fruit and vegetables, and 30g for dried fruit.
Here’s ten tips that make it easy to eat your greens.
- Juice it
Although only one 150ml portion of smoothie or fruit juice counts towards your 5 a day, they are delicious and easy to add into your existing diet. Smoothie brands now offer innovative flavours which gives you a chance to try more unusual ingredients – guava, spirulina and chia seeds, anyone?
- Feeling fruity
Lots of us choose the same old banana or apple for our lunchbox every day. There’s nothing wrong with that, but why not experiment with some different options? Kiwi fruit, satsumas, and pears are all robust enough to survive the journey to work. You could also bring a pot of frozen berries or more exotic fruits such as slices of melon, pineapple or mango.
- Leafy lunchtime
Similarly, make sure your lunch always contains at least one portion of veg. This could be as simple as adding salad to your sandwiches, or bringing along sticks of chopped veg, such as carrots, cucumber or sweet peppers.
Alternatively, salads are easy to make ahead and pack away in a lunchbox. They’re also super versatile, as you can swap around the protein, veg and dressing, depending on what’s in the fridge.
- Get sneaky
Add hidden veg into family meals to help everyone eat healthier. This pasta sauce recipe contains celery, carrots, leeks, peppers, tomatoes and onion, and counts as five portions of veg… but the kids will never know.
- Try new things
We’re often a bit unadventurous with our fruit and veg choices. We know what we like and stick to it. That’s fine, but it means we’re more likely to get bored and turn to more exciting (and unhealthier) foods.
It’s worth revisiting foods you disliked as a child to see if your tastes have evolved. A quick straw poll in our office revealed that people now enjoy mushrooms, avocado, and coconut, as well as childhood veg villains Brussel sprouts, cabbage, swede and turnip. Give it a go – you might surprise yourself!
- Keep costs low
Your fruit and veg can be fresh, dried, canned, or frozen, but these last two options are the most budget friendly. Be sure to choose tinned fruit and vegetables in natural juice or water, with no added sugar or salt.
Try to buy your fresh produce in season for the best price and look out for deals on selected products like Aldi’s Super 6 campaign or Morrisons’ Fruit Bundle.
- Soup glorious soup
As we head into the colder months, soup comes into its own as a delicious and warming lunch option that packs in plenty of veg. Making your own soup is simple and super-cheap – try these recipes to get started.
- Get creative in the kitchen
Many of us default to boiling vegetables, which risks cooking away valuable nutrients and can be unexciting flavour-wise. Instead, try steaming or grilling your veg, or eating them raw if possible. If you do decide to boil them, be sure to only cook veg for a short time – they should still be crisp and bright.
It’s also worth getting adventurous with your ingredients. You can pack in flavour by marinating vegetables just like meat, as well as adding combinations of herbs, spices, and sauces.
- Beanz meanz business
80g of beans or pulses counts as one of your daily portions. They are easy to add to soups and stews, giving you a great source of fibre and a cheap way to make your dish go further.
- Start the day right
Kickstart your day by getting a portion or two in at breakfast. Try chopping a banana over breakfast cereal or sprinkling some frozen berries on your porridge. If you don’t feel like eating much first thing, grab an apple or smoothie to enjoy mid-morning.
When you have time to enjoy a more leisurely breakfast, there are plenty of ways to add in fruit and veg. Make a full English healthier by adding grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach, and making your own baked beans. Or try a new recipe like shakshuka or breakfast burrito.
Give these tips a go and you’ll be smashing the five a day target in no time.