How much is 5 a day?
Azmina Govindji, Dietitian with the British Dietetic Association, explains how much counts towards your 5 a day portions of fruit and vegetables.
Azmina says 'Fruit and vegetables are so rich in vitamins, minerals, fibre and they're low in fat. Very interestingly worldwide research shows that eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day can help to reduce the instances of diseases such as cardiovascular disease and some cancers.
'It's really important because our bodies have free radicals or substances that cause inflammatory reactions in our body. Fruit and vegetables are rich in what we call antioxidants and the research is showing that if you have 400g a day, which is equivalent roughly to five portions of fruit and vegetables, then you are protecting yourself against that free radical damage.'
One portion of fruit =
Dried fruit: About a heaped tbsp of any dried fruit counts and even 2 tbsp canned fruit will count.
Fruit juice: An average size glass of unsweetened fruit juice will count just once a day, no matter how much you drink, because you have stripped the fruit of it's natural fibre.
One portion of vegetables =
- A bowl of salad
- 5cm stick of cucumber
- Not quite a whole carrot
- An average tomato
- Around 3 tbsp of any type of vegetable will count towards your 5 a day as one portion each.
Beans and pulses count only once a day. So 3 tbsp of any beans - that's baked beans, chickpeas or kidney beans - no matter how much you have, they will count once a day. The reason is that they don't have the same range of nutrients as the other fruits and vegetables.
'If you're worried about trying to incorporate 5 a day into your diet just start with one more. Look at what you're eating - add one more and gradually add another one. It could be as simple as taking a piece of fruit to work or having some dried fruit in your desk or having some salad with your sandwich at lunchtime.'