Why you Should be Eating your 5 a Day

“5 a day” has become a slogan synonymous with healthy eating in the UK. Doctors, teachers, parents, everyone spouts this phrase when giving health advice, and for good reason. The most recent data from 2016, shows that just 29% of men and 32% of women are actually getting their 5 a day and the figures for children are even worse: 7% of boys and 9% of girls. Why is this so important, and what can we do to improve?


Why 5 a day keeps the doctor away

The 5 a day saying came about due to research showing that 400g of fruits and vegetables per day significantly reduced our risk of diseases such as cancer and heart disease and also increases our life expectancy. 400g is equivalent to 5 80g portions – hence the 5 a day to keep the doctor away. This is because fruits and vegetable are an incredible source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which are all essential for our bodies to function best. They are also full of fibre, which keeps our digestive tract healthy, and also contain many protective compounds that have a wide range of benefits. Vegetables in particular seem to have the most health benefits, so it is recommended that we make as many portions as possible from vegetables rather than fruit. However, fruit is still amazing for you so there is no need to cut it out!


Some new research is even showing that to get maximum disease protection, we should be eating 10 portions per day, but as we aren’t even meeting the 5 a day recommendation currently, that is barely on the horizon and is likely unachievable for many people.


How to meet your 5 a day

  • Include at least one portion with every meal, that way you already have 3 portions done
  • Choose one meal to include 2 portions, pick a meal where you find it easiest to incorporate
  • Include one portion as a snack each day


What counts as a portion

  • A general rule is a good-sized handful, although for things such as salad leaves you may need more 
  • One apple, one banana or one pear 
  • Two plums, two kiwi, or two satsumas 
  • Fruit juice and dried fruit do count, but only as one portion per day maximum
  • Canned and frozen count
  • Beans count – even baked beans!
  • Potatoes don't count 


Example Day

  • Breakfast: Porridge topped with a handful of fresh berries = 1
  • Lunch: Teriyaki salmon with brown rice and broccoli = 1
  • Snack: A chopped carrot with hummus = 1
  • Dinner: Chicken stir fry with sugar snap peas and red pepper = 2



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